Pregnancy & Postnatal Services - Antenatal & Postnatal Depression

Whether you are having your first baby or your fifth, pregnancy is a time of considerable change in a family’s life. While the image of the happy, glowing pregnant woman remains prominent in our society, the real experience can be quite different.

So too, there is often an expectation that the birth of a baby will bring instant joy and happiness. However, a new baby also brings major changes in family roles, relationships and routines, and these changes can be very stressful. In some families, parents, babies and other children may begin to experience difficulties.

Postnatal depression affects 1 in 8 women and antenatal depression is thought to be at least as common. The onset of depression during pregnancy or after the birth appears to be associated with the complex physiological, psychological and social changes that occur at this time in a woman’s life.

The symptoms include:
  • Low mood, irritability or mood swings
  • Anxiety & panic attacks
  • Crying or wanting to cry ‘for no reason’
  • Feeling unable to cope
  • Feeling a failure as a mother
  • Loss of interest or enjoyment in activities
  • Chronic exhaustion or hyperactivity
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Poor appetite or over-eating
  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Loss of self confidence
  • Unrealistic feelings of guilt
  • Fear of being alone
  • Social withdrawal
  • Negative, obsessive, or morbid thoughts

Many women suffer these symptoms in silence in the belief that they are the only one to feel this way and that nothing can be done to help them. Others are reassured by well-intentioned friends and family that what they are experiencing is simply part of the ‘normal’ adjustment to motherhood. While it is normal for mothers to feel exhausted and overwhelmed at times, if these feelings persist do not hesitate to seek help.

How can we help?

The good news is that antenatal and postnatal depression can be treated very effectively. The complex relationship issues associated with this unique time of life can also respond well to specialised psychological interventions. Immediate help can often address problems rapidly and prevent symptoms becoming worse. Indeed, intervention during pregnancy may prevent or reduce problems in the postnatal period.

What treatment options are available?

A variety of treatment options are available to meet the family’s specific needs:

  • Individual counselling and therapy - available for both mothers and fathers to address their particular needs and concerns.
  • Relationship counselling or family therapy - to encourage mutual understanding and support as family members work together to cope with stress and to grow as a unit in this process.
  • Parent-infant therapy - to provide a safe, supportive environment in which parents can further develop their new relationship with their infant and work through anxieties and concerns that may arise within this relationship.
  • Parent-child therapy - relationship-building and behaviour management strategies for parents with toddlers and older children.
  • Natural therapies – referral to one of our naturopaths can be arranged for nutritional guidance and/or natural remedies to assist in reducing symptoms of stress and depression and promoting well-being.
  • Medication - where appropriate, treatment with antidepressant medication can be arranged.