PANDA Week: It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

Expecting and welcoming a new baby into the world is a major milestone in every mother’s life. It is often a time of excitement and great joy. But what happens when it’s not?

Perinatal anxiety and depression are very real and very serious. In fact, it’s reported that 100,000 new parents are affected every year in Australia. So why do so many of us feel we can’t share our honest experiences when it comes to the challenges of pregnancy and caring for a baby?

It’s time we all understood that it’s okay to not be okay. And that help exists when we’re not.

What is perinatal anxiety and depression?

Let’s be real – being pregnant and caring for a newborn is not always sunshine and rainbows. There are challenges and stresses that go hand in hand with carrying and then welcoming a new baby. But how do you know when normal worries, concerns, tiredness or teary moments have crossed over into something more serious?

Some of the signs and symptoms of perinatal anxiety and depression can include:

  • Panic attacks (a racing heart, shortness of breath, shaking etc.)
  • Persistent worries, often related to the wellbeing of your baby
  • Developing obsessive or compulsive behaviours
  • Abrupt mood swings
  • Feeling constantly sad, worthless, or crying for no obvious reason
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Fear of being alone with baby
  • Intrusive thoughts of harm to yourself or baby
  • Irritability and/or anger

 

When a new parent experiences any of the above (and yes, dads can suffer, too), they can often feel very guilty about it. This is supposed to be the happiest time of my life – why do I feel so low? Admitting to these low or negative thoughts and feelings can be difficult for the sufferer because they worry it makes them sound like a bad parent. But this is simply not true.

In some cases, pregnant women and new parents mistake these feelings as a normal part of the experience. And when symptoms of perinatal anxiety and depression are hidden or misunderstood, the sufferer can become even more isolated.

PANDA Awareness Week

The good news is that if you are suffering from anxiety or depression during pregnancy or after your baby is born, there is help available. You don’t have to suffer in silence.

It’s currently PANDA Week which aims to get real about perinatal anxiety and depression. PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) works hard to raise awareness around this important issue so that all new parents can feel comfortable seeking support. Visit their website for resources, fact sheets and support. There is valuable information for mums, dads and anyone who seeks to better support a loved one experiencing perinatal mental health issues.

Photo by Felipe Bustillo on Unsplash

You are not alone

If you’re struggling, remember that you are not alone. These feelings do not make you a bad parent. And importantly, you won’t feel this way forever. Help is available. Be gentle with yourself. You and your baby are learning as you go, and sometimes we all need a little extra support.

Call the PANDA National Helpline on 1300 726 306 (Mon to Fri, 9am – 7:30pm AEST).

 

Featured image via Raising Children.

Infographics via PANDA.