It’s not all black and white: Postnatal Depression Awareness
The 3rd week of November is recognized as Post Natal Depression Awareness Week in Australia (Postpartum Depression is the language used in America). INA member Louise Dunham’s agency, Placement Solutions, entered into a sponsorship arrangement with PANDA – the Post and Antenatal Depression Association in 2014 and is generously sharing the information below.
What is PANDA? What do they do and how can all of us help with the excellent work that they do?
For 30 years, PANDA have been providing support to mothers and fathers who suffer from mental health problems associated with pregnancy and the period after child birth (collectively known as the perinatal period). The Melbourne-based organisation runs a national helpline staffed by PANDA employees and volunteers. It is the only Australian helpline dedicated to this condition and it takes around 11,000 calls per year.
In addition, PANDA works to provide community and professional education and a range of other support activities including playgroup facilitation and support referrals.
Who is impacted by perinatal depression?
The statistics around perinatal depression and anxiety may surprise you. Around 100,000 expecting and new Australian parents suffer the symptoms every year – that’s nearly 2000 per week. Perhaps more surprising is that around a quarter of that number are fathers: up to one in 20 men are affected pre- and/or post-pregnancy. What this statistic makes clear is that perinatal mental health issues are not just biological or hormone related – in both men and women there can also be underlying psychological and social issues.
If left untreated, the effects of these issues can be dreadful, including threatening the relationship between parents and damaging the precious early relationship with a newborn baby.
The good news is that there is support available and, particularly with early intervention, these conditions can be managed and mitigated.
The bad news is that too many expecting and new parents put up with antenatal and postnatal depression and anxiety without seeking help. Whether it is fear of the stigma of ‘failed parent’, thinking that they are alone in their suffering or simply lack of awareness that help is available, far too many people try to struggle through these issues on their own.
How does PANDA help?
First and foremost, PANDA provides a forum and platform for community education. It’s okay to talk about it!
PANDA is working to build community awareness of these issues – not only amongst expecting and new parents, but also in the wider community. Very often partners, friends, colleagues, relatives – and nannies – are in a better position to identify the symptoms than the sufferer themselves. Their main message is that it is okay to talk about it, and doing so early on could save a lot of unnecessary suffering.
The infographic above summarises some of the common symptoms of antenatal and postnatal depression. While many of these symptoms can be common to new parents, if any of them persist for a period of two weeks or more, and if they start to affect the parent’s day-to-day existence, then it is time to get help. Depending on the situation, there support options can include anything from simply taking time out to psychological or medical intervention. For some time now PANDA’s helpline has made referrals to Placement Solutions as a provider of in-home child care and household management assistance for some of its callers.
PANDA encourages everyone in the community to take time out and learn the symptoms of antenatal and postnatal depression and anxiety. Their websites – www.panda.org.au and www.howisdadgoing.org.au – both provide information and strategies that everyone can use to potentially help someone who is suffering, or at risk of suffering, from these conditions.
INA Newborn Care Specialists and Nannies often deal with new moms and dads – awareness of when something could be wrong is a key to prompt treatment and recovery from postpartum depression.