Pregnancy and early parenthood

Depression and anxiety can happen at any time – but we know women are more likely to experience these conditions during pregnancy and the year following the birth of a baby (also known as the perinatal period).

Pregnancy and adjusting to a new baby is rewarding, but it can also bring significant changes and challenges. While some days will be better than others, for some women who experience mental health conditions, each day is a struggle. The important thing is to know how to recognise the signs and seek help early.

Depression and anxiety are the most common types of mental health conditions in the perinatal period, and can occur at any time during pregnancy or in the weeks and months following childbirth (often referred to as postpartum or postnatal depression/anxiety, or PND). Other serious mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder and puerperal (postpartum) psychosis, can also occur at this time.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder during pregnancy or early parenthood are the same as those experienced at any other time of life. Some conditions can be a little harder to identify and deal with when you are pregnant or have a baby though, as it's also a time of great change and adjustment, both mentally and physically (e.g. hormonal changes). 

Treatment options

The type of treatment varies according to the individual and the severity of the condition. Often a combination of treatments is most effective. The most important thing is to talk to a health professional who will help to find the treatment that is right for you. Remember, the faster you get help, the faster you can recover. 

Who can assist

Having a baby can be one of the most exciting things a person will ever do. While parenting is a rewarding job, it can also be one of the most challenging. It is a lot for anyone to take on – even if the pregnancy, labour and birth go according to plan. That's why it's so important for people to look after their emotional health at this time, and to seek help early if they have symptoms of depression, anxiety or another mental health condition.

Helping yourself and helping others

There are many things you can do to take care of your emotional health during pregnancy, as you prepare for parenthood, and as you adjust to early parenthood. It's also good to have some strategies for how to help yourself when you feel things are getting too much

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