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Perinatal depression and anxiety can strike anyone: first-time mums, experienced mums, older mums, younger mums, and mothers from all socioeconomic backgrounds and cultures.

For some women, it appears to be completely biological/hormonal on origin, for others a personal or family history of anxiety and depression, or social circumstances.

Whatever the cause, perinatal depression and anxiety is treatable, so if you suspect you or someone close to you, may be experiencing symptoms, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible.

Higher risk markers

  • Lack of support or understanding from partner
  • Lack of emotional and practical support from friends and family
  • Stress related to finances, work, or house move
  • Other emotional stress (e.g. unplanned pregnancy, IVF, previous reproductive problems, e.g. emergency caesarean or other difficult birth events)
  • Recent or otherwise significant bereavement
  • Age less than 18 or over 35
  • Previous mental health problems in self (e.g. depression, bullying, in adolescence) or family
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse situation
  • Migrants and refugees
  • Rural and remote location

What are the baby blues and how are they different to PNDA?

These symptoms should not be confused with the baby blues, a brief period of mood swings, tearfulness and anxiety that is very common among new mothers in the first week after giving birth. With the baby blues symptoms tend to appear 3–5 days after giving birth and usually resolve in a week or two.

Perinatal depression and anxiety is different and potentially serious. If a woman experiences symptoms every day for more than two weeks, and these start affecting her ability to cope in daily life, she may be developing anxiety and depression and should seek help and advice.

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