Having a baby is both an exciting and challenging time. Add in anxiety and/or depression and it can make it difficult to function. It may be frightening and isolating trying to deal with your symptoms as well as care for your new baby. You may also feel like you are not a good parent. Both women and men might experience perinatal (during pregnancy and the year after birth) mental health issues and these can vary in intensity and symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms may include:

  • Panic attacks (racing heart, palpitations, shortness of breath, shaking or feeling physically ‘detached’)
  • Persistent, generalised worry, often focused on the wellbeing of your baby
  • The development of obsessive or compulsive behaviours
  • Increased sensitivity to touch or noise
  • Changes in appetite; under or overeating
  • Abrupt mood swings
  • Sleep problems unrelated to your baby’s needs
  • Feeling constantly sad, low or crying for no obvious reason
  • Extreme lethargy; a feeling of being physically or emotionally overwhelmed
  • Being nervous, ‘on edge’, or panicky,
  • Feeling constantly tired and lacking energy
  • Loss of confidence and lowered self esteem
  • Having little or no interest in all the usual things that bring you joy
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Fear of being alone with your baby
  • Intrusive thoughts of harm to you and/or your baby
  • Irritability and/or anger
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Thoughts of death or suicide


Factors that contribute to Perinatal Anxiety & Depression:

  • History of anxiety and/or depression
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Previous reproductive loss (infertility, IVF, miscarriage, termination, stillbirth, loss of baby)
  • Difficult or complex pregnancy
  • Birth trauma
  • Premature or sick baby
  • Challenges with feeding or settling
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Pre-existing physical illness
  • Financial or Relationship Stress
  • Family and Domestic Violence
  • Lack of social support
  • History of childhood trauma or neglect
  • Isolation and lack of social connections
  • Loss and Grief issues
  • Absence of your own mother or mothering figure

Getting Help

Help and support is available and getting the right help early leads to a faster recovery with less impact on you, your baby, partner and family. If you are concerned about what is happening to you or a loved one you can:

  • Confide in a partner, trusted friend or loved one
  • Let your GP or other trusted health professional know
  • Talk to other parents who have recovered from perinatal anxiety and/or depression
  • Seek counselling with South West Counselling Inc (97542052)
  • Call the PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia) helpline (1300726306) or visit the PANDA website (

If you’re worried that you could have perinatal anxiety and/or depression, be assured that many other women and men have come through this experience to find joy and fulfillment as a parent. You are not alone and you don’t need to go through it alone.