Postnatal depression
Adjusting to life as a mother can be difficult. In fact, for many women, having a baby is the most significant life-changing event they will ever experience. Adjusting to this major life change, as well as coping with the day-to-day demands of a new baby, can make some women more likely to experience depression at this time, particularly if they’ve experienced depression in the past.
Postnatal depression (PND) af ects almost 16 per cent of new Postnatal depression has the same signs and symptoms as mothers in Australia. As with depression, PND is common. depression. Women with PND can experience a prolonged Depression af ects one in five females and one in eight males. period of low mood, reduced interest in activities, tiredness and Around one mil ion Australian adults and 160,000 young people disturbance of sleep and appetite and negative thoughts and feelings. To find out about the general symptoms of depression, go to the series of depression checklists at
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (see below) is
Like depression which occurs at any other time, postnatal a set of questions designed to see if a new mother may have depression doesn’t have one definite cause – but it’s likely to depression. The answers will not provide a diagnosis – for that result from a combination of factors including: you need to see a doctor or other health professional. The answers will tell you however, if you or someone you know, has • a past history of depression and/or anxiety symptoms that are common in women with PND. If you have concerns that you or someone you know has PND, • depression during the current pregnancy To complete this set of questions, mothers should circle the number next to the response which comes closest to how they • a prolonged labour and/or delivery complications 1 I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things. • a lack of practical, financial and/or emotional support 2 I have looked forward with enjoyment to things. 1 Rather less than I used to 2 Definitely less than I used to • having an unsettled baby (e.g. difficulties with feeding 3 I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong. • having unrealistic expectations about motherhood • making work adjustments (e.g. stopping or re-starting work).
For more information or beyondblue info line 1300 22 4636
Postnatal depression
4 I have been anxious or worried for no good reason. The total score is calculated by adding together the numbers you circled for each of the 10 items. If your score is 10 points or above, you should speak to a health professional about 5 I have felt scared or panicky for no very good reason. There is a range of effective treatments for managing PND. Psychological treatment
Psychological treatment, which is often referred to as ‘talking therapy’ has general y been found to be the most ef ective way of 6 Things have been getting on top of me. treating postnatal depression. Psychological treatment can help by: 3 Yes, most of the time I haven’t been able to cope at all • changing negative thoughts and feelings 2 Yes, sometimes I haven’t been coping as well as usual • encouraging involvement in activities 1 No, most of the time I have coped quite well 0 No, I have been coping as well as ever 7 I have been so unhappy that I have had difficulty sleeping. • preventing depression from getting serious again.
Medication can play an important role in helping people with depression manage from day to day. Some people may worry about how antidepressants will affect a baby who is breastfed. However, remaining on medication can be important in order to avoid significant depression which can have a negative impact If the mother is breastfeeding, specific types of medications are preferred. While a number of factors will influence the choice of antidepressant, SSRIs – Sertraline, Citalopram and 9 I have been so unhappy that I have been crying. Fluvoxamine – have been found to be least likely to cause any harm to infants.
3 Yes, most of the time 2 Yes, quite often The decision to take medication is up to the individual and should be made in consultation with a doctor, after considering the risks and benefits to both the mother and infant. For more details visit or call the beyondblue 10 The thought of harming myself has occurred to me. info line on 1300 22 4636 (local call).
(Further reading: Buist, A. ‘Guidelines for the Use of SSRI’s in pregnant Women’, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 7, No. 4, Summer 2005, pp.18-20).
For more information or beyondblue info line 1300 22 4636
joining a support group, keeping in touch with your family doctor and taking time out. By keeping yourself physically and mentally healthy, you will be better equipped to support • Seek help and treatment from a doctor or other qualified • Expect that a person with postnatal depression can be moody, • Seek friendships with other women, including other mums irritable, volatile, teary and withdrawn. Try not to take what they • Organise childcare or ask friends or family to look after the • Contact a doctor or hospital, if the woman becomes a threat child/ren occasionally to allow you to have time to yourself.
• Make sure you take time to do the things you enjoy like reading a book, listening to music or having a bath. • Spend some time with your partner to help nurture the • A doctor who is a General Practitioner (GP) is a good first
step. In some cases, the person may be referred to • Develop a support system of friends, family and a mental health specialist like a psychiatrist or psychologist. For a list of GPs with expertise in treating depression • Restrict visitors when feeling unwell, overwhelmed or tired. and related disorders visit the beyondblue website and click on Find a Doctor or call the beyondblue info line on 1300 22 4636 (local call).
• Don’t bottle up feelings – discuss them with friends, family • Psychiatrists are doctors who specialise in mental health.
They can make medical and psychological assessments, conduct medical tests and prescribe medication. Some • Practise deep breathing and muscle relaxation techniques.
psychiatrists use psychological treatments.
• Try to establish good sleeping patterns.
Psychologists, Mental Health Nurses, Social Workers
• Learn about postnatal depression.
and Occupational Therapists specialise in providing non-
• Call a postnatal depression support service or mental medical (psychological) treatment for depression and related health crisis line if things are getting tough and other help disorders. A rebate can now be claimed through Medicare for psychological treatments when your GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician refers you to a registered psychologist, mental health nurse, social worker or occupational therapist. This rebate can be claimed for part of the cost for up to 12 individual (18 in exceptional circumstances) and 12 group sessions in • Remember that postnatal depression is treatable. a calendar year. For more details ask your referring medical • Encourage the woman to see a health professional. Offer to practitioner. For a list of mental health professionals providing treatment for which you can claim a Medicare rebate go to: – Clinical Psychologists: • Spend time listening, without feeling the need to of er solutions. • Of er to spend time looking after the baby or older children – Psychologists: or discuss other childcare options so the mum can have time – Mental Health Social Workers: • Offer to help with housework like cooking and cleaning. • Let the woman know how well she is doing when she makes – Mental Health Occupation Therapists: • Encourage the woman to use some self-help strategies.
• Look after yourself. Seek support for your own needs by For more information or beyondblue info line 1300 22 4636
Postnatal depression
beyondblue: the national depression initiative
Good Beginnings
Information on depression, anxiety and related disorders, Information on parenting and details of support services for available treatments and where to get help beyondblue info line 1300 22 4636
Information on depression, anxiety and related disorders,
available treatments and referral only (local call) Information on parenting and details of support services for
beyondblue’s website for young people – information on Karitane
depression, anxiety and how to help a friend
Post and Antenatal Depression Association Inc
Information on parenting including a section on managing postnatal depression, and details of support services for 1300 726 306 (Monday – Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm EST)

Provides information for women and their families affected by
antenatal and postnatal mood disorders about the causes and Information and internet-based education and treatment symptoms of these disorders, as well as types of treatments programs for people with depression or anxiety SANE Australia Helpline
Suicide Call Back Service
1800 18 7263 or
1300 659 467
Information about mental illness, treatments, where to go for Telephone support for those at risk of suicide, their carers and Multicultural Mental Health Australia
SuicideLine Victoria
(02) 9840 3333
1300 651 251 or
Specialist telephone counselling and information to anyone Mental health information for people from culturally and MensLine Australia
Carers Australia
1300 78 99 78 or
1800 242 636
Telephone support, information and referral for men with family
and relationship problems especial y around family breakdown Family carer support and counselling in each state and territory Relationships Australia
1300 364 277

Support and counselling for relationships Counselling, information and referral (local call) Public Health Centres
Community public health centres also provide help and advice
on child and maternal health issues. See your local telephone Black Dog Institute
beyondblue: the national depression initiative, 2010.
Information on depression (including during and after pregnancy) and bipolar disorder – specifical y causes, treatments, symptoms, beyondblue info line 1300 22 4636F: (03) 9810 6111 getting help and current research findings E: [email protected] W: For more information or beyondblue info line 1300 22 4636


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