PANDA Week

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Authour: Jessica Smith, Psychologist

Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Awareness (PANDA) Week was established in 2005 to raise awareness about perinatal anxiety and depression, including what signs to look for and where to seek support. This year’s theme is ‘I wish I knew’; parents are encouraged to share what they ‘wish they knew’ before having a baby so to encourage others to seek help early if they are struggling with symptoms of anxiety or depression.

What do you wish you knew before becoming a parent? You might like to start a conversation with a friend or loved one or share a post via social media.

Recent statistics indicate that approximately 1 in 10 women (and 1 in 20 men) experience depression in the antenatal period, while approximately 1 in 7 women (and 1 in 10 men) experience depression in the postnatal period, with anxiety occurring at similar rates. 

Signs to look out for can vary and may include:

  • Panic-like symptoms (e.g., racing heart, shortness of breath)
  • A persistent sense of worry
  • Obsessive or compulsive behaviours (e.g., frequent/excessive checking)
  • Mood swings
  • Constant sadness
  • Feeling ‘on edge’
  • Sleep problems
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Having thoughts of death or suicide

Postnatal psychosis is a rare, acute, mental illness that tends to occur within the first 4 to 12 weeks after giving birth. Signs can include: agitation, hallucinations, paranoia, or speech that does not make sense to others. Women with postnatal psychosis will almost always need to be admitted to hospital for specialised psychiatric assessment and treatment.

The good news with perinatal anxiety, depression, and psychosis, is that women generally experience a full recovery with appropriate treatment and time.

Useful resources:

  • PANDA is an Australian not for profit organisation supporting women, men and families affected by anxiety and depression during pregnancy and early parenthood. PANDA provides a National Helpline which operates Monday to Friday, 9am to 730pm. You can find more information at https://www.panda.org.au/
  • beyondblue is a not for profit organisation that aims to raise awareness regarding mental health, to reduce stigma surrounding mental health issues, and to encourage people to seek support when they need it. You can find more information at https://www.beyondblue.org.au/
  • You can visit your General Practitioner (GP) for further information and to discuss concerns you may have for yourself or your loved one. Your GP might complete a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP) and refer you to an experienced Psychologist or Accredited Mental Health Social Worker for counselling subsidised through Medicare. Contact us for further information on how we can help.
  • You can also find helpful apps on through your smart device. ‘Mind the Bump’ is a free, clinically-based and the first mental health-related pregnancy App in the world to cover both the ante- and post-natal period while featuring Mindfulness Meditation, developed by beyondblue and Smiling Mind.
  • COPE is a not for profit organisation with a philosophy that all women, men and families should have access to timely and effective screening, management, treatment and care. You can find more information at http://cope.org.au/

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