PND - how family and friends can help

Perinatal depression and anxiety is horribly common for new parents, but the condition is still really poorly understood by many in our community and often remains undiagnosed and untreated.

Louise* is a mother of three children. When her second child was born, things just didn’t feel right from the moment she left hospital. “My daughter cried so much, especially at night, and the noise of her cry gave me this uneasy feeling through my body. My heart would beat faster and my thoughts would get scrambled. The world I knew was all a blur. I now know this feeling as anxiety.” Louise’s powerlessness to stop the crying and the associated sleeplessness made her feel she’d failed. As things worsened, Louise says she pulled away from those closest to her.

Georgina*, a mother of two, had a similar experience after her second child was born. “I felt like a complete and utter failure at everything. I was exhausted all the time. I was confused a lot, I lost track of time. I couldn’t remember appointments or arrangements I’d made with friends. Decisions were impossible … they paralysed me, and often meant I just did nothing, because I just couldn’t decide on anything.”

Sometimes, new parents don’t even realise they are suffering depression or anxiety, or so desperately try to put on the “I’m OK” facade, that it’s really hard for partners, family or friends to help.  Being there to provide emotional support as well as hands on help with baby and household tasks can go a long way. Acknowledging that everything isn’t right and encouraging your loved one to get help is also an invaluable support

For support, advice and more information, contact Lifeline (13 11 14), Post and Antenatal Depression Association (1300 726 306) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636).

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