Pregnancy, fluctuating progesterone and oestrogen, fertility treatments. Hormones have a huge impact on our emotions. But when these feelings begin to affect how you function on a day-to-day basis, it may be a sign of something more serious. While many expectant mothers experience a range of emotions, some may also experience symptoms of anxiety and depression, which can have a significant impact on both the mother’s wellbeing and the health of her baby.
Antenatal anxiety and depression affects 1-in-5 expecting mothers.
And even more women will experience a mental illness during their postpartum than during pregnancy.
What is perinatal anxiety and depression?
What causes perinatal anxiety and depression?
The causes are complex and can vary from woman to woman. Some of the factors that can contribute to the condition include hormonal changes, stress, relationship difficulties, financial concerns, and a history of mental health issues. In some cases, women may also experience symptoms of depression during pregnancy or after childbirth due to postpartum blues.
IVF and its toll on mental health
Undergoing IVF and wondering about the impact of the process on your mental health? “The process of assisted reproduction itself is also associated with increased anxiety, depression and stress and can impact on your self-esteem and confidence. This may particularly be relevant if you experience a failed IVF cycle.”
How can perinatal anxiety and depression be treated?
Treating perinatal anxiety and depression is important for both the mother’s wellbeing and the health of her baby. Some of the treatments available include:
- Therapy, to identify and address the underlying causes of their anxiety and depression, and to develop coping strategies for managing their symptoms.
- Medication, to help manage symptoms, and
- Lifestyle changes, often in addition to medical treatments, lifestyle changes like regular exercise, a healthy diet and sufficient sleep can help to boost mood and reduce stress. Women can also benefit from support from family and friends, as well as support groups and counselling services.
It’s important for women who are experiencing symptoms of perinatal anxiety and depression to seek help and support. With the right treatment and support, it is possible for women to manage their symptoms and to enjoy a happy and healthy pregnancy and postpartum period.
Australian organisations like @pandanational, @theroyalwomens and @cope.org.au are available for specific support.
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