Perinatal depression including dad mental health

Perinatal depression is a term many health professionals use to describe the depression that is:

  • before the birth of your child
  • during birth, or
  • up to 12 months after birth.

Up to one in 10 Australian women experience depression during pregnancy. Up to one in seven women experience depression after birth.

It’s common for women to experience depression again after the birth of another child. Dads can also find themselves needing support with the​ir mental health.

It’s important to speak to someone if you’re finding it hard to cope. The sooner you get support, the sooner you can get on with enjoying your family.

Symptoms

Depression during and after birth has the same symptoms as regular depression. The symptoms may overlap with other impacts of having a new baby, like tiredness and loss of appetite. This can make the symptoms harder to recognise.

Seek help

It’s always best to check in with:

Seek help if you:

  • feel very low or feel numb
  • often feel close to tears due to anxiety, feeling worthless or inadequate, guilty or ashamed
  • constantly feel angry, irritable or even resentful
  • have trouble sleeping or alternatively can’t get out of bed
  • can’t cope with daily tasks
  • feel detached and ‘out of it’
  • find your appetite changes
  • feel unmotivated
  • have dangerous thoughts about harming yourself or the baby

It can be easy to dismiss these feelings, but it’s important for you and your baby to seek help.

If you’re feeling depressed, discuss your concerns with your Maternal and Child Health nurse. They can run an assessment and provide advice. They can also get in touch with your local doctor.

Dad mental h​ealth

Men can also experience depression or anxiety during their partner’s pregnancy and after the birth of a child. Support is available for new dads experiencing anxiety and depression. You can get help from: