Beyond Blue and PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia) are encouraging new and expectant parents to reach out if they are feeling overwhelmed, as new data reveals many don’t turn to their General Practitioner for help when they are struggling.
The new information from the PANDA national helpline shows more than 70 per cent of callers don’t ask their GP for help with their perinatal mental health. (Perinatal is a term used to describe the period from conception to around a year after a baby’s birth.)
The concerning data also reveals 40 per cent of callers say feeling isolated and alone contributes to their distress and more than 15 per cent of callers wait longer than 12 months to seek help.
PANDA and Beyond Blue are working together to change these figures during Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week (15-21 November).
“What we hear every day on the Helpline is that parents are struggling with the transition into parenthood – they can often feel overwhelmed, isolated or ashamed and we need them to know that these thoughts are common and that help is available,” said PANDA CEO Terri Smith.
“What we also know is that it’s not all black and white and that symptoms of perinatal anxiety and depression manifest themselves differently in each person.
“We’re finding that anxiety is now just as common as depression. One in 10 mums and one in 20 new dads struggle with antenatal depression, and one in seven new mums and one in 10 dads experiences postnatal depression. Many parents experience both anxiety and depression at the same time, therefore it needs to be front of mind as a health concern during pregnancy and after birth.
“We know that early intervention promotes a more beneficial outcome, so it’s a really important message to seek help as soon as you have any concerns,” she said.
Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said it was important for new mums and their partners to be aware of the symptoms of depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after the birth. It’s important to talk to your doctor or your maternal nurse if you are feeling overwhelmed.
“Becoming a parent is life-changing and it’s a good idea for both mums and dads to be aware that depression and anxiety are common at this time and you shouldn’t feel ashamed to ask for help if you are having a tough time. Specific information for new parents is available at www.beyondblue.org.au or www.justspeakup.com.au or call our Support Service 1300 22 4636 if you need to talk to someone,” she said.
PANDA’s Helpline: 1300 726 306 (operates Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm EST). www.panda.org.au
Mental health professionals are available at the Beyond Blue Support Service via phone 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support for online chat (3pm to 12am AEST) or email responses (within 24 hours).