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Tweddle lending a hand for Postnatal Depression Awareness Week

Posted by Kerrie Gottliebsen | 13/11/14

Sunday 16th November – 22nd November is Postnatal Depression Awareness week. With one in seven new mums and one in twenty new dads experiencing postnatal depression (PND), it’s likely you’ve either experienced PND or you know somebody who has. Depression is a mental health condition which, if left untreated, can interfere with the person’s ability to function at work and their ability to function in relationships.

Symptoms of PND may include lack of confidence, negative thoughts, feelings of being unable to cope, anxiety, difficulty sleeping and loss of appetite. Some women may even experience depression during pregnancy (this is called antenatal depression). Recovery from postnatal depression is possible with a combination of counselling, time, self care, and sometimes medication.

Tweddle Psychologist Emma Symes spends many hours a week supporting mums, dads and their children who have been impacted by postnatal depression.

Dr Symes recommends asking for help as early as possible. “Supporting families where a parent has postnatal depression is extremely important to us at Tweddle” she said. “This process commences at intake where the client spends up to half an hour on the phone talking about their situation, and then, if they come to the residential unit, we meet with them during their stay, provide counselling and if necessary explore options for obtaining more support in the community once they return home”.

After having a baby, up to 80 per cent of women may develop the ‘baby blues’. This feeling passes in a day or two and is different to (PND). Symptoms of PND occur within 12 months of having a baby, usually during the first few weeks or months. It can range in severity from very mild and transient, to severe and lingering.

Like depression which occurs outside the postnatal period, PND doesn’t have one definite cause—but it’s likely to result from a combination of factors which may include childhood trauma and abuse, a family history of mental illness, loss of a parent, past mental health difficulties, a stressful pregnancy, difficulty breastfeeding, a lack of practical, financial and/or emotional support, and having an unsettled baby (difficulties with feeding and sleeping).

Dr Symes reiterated the importance of early intervention “If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety following the birth of a baby, encourage them to ask for help”. Tweddle’s Psychology Service has recently expanded to support more mums and dads work through the challenges that come with PND”.

Tweddle also offers a low-cost psychology service, for up to ten sessions per year, to clients who have a referral from their GP. The Tweddle Infant and Perinatal Psychology Service specialise in treating depression and anxiety and the perinatal period, and supporting parents with the challenges that come with parenting young children.

If you would like to talk to someone about postnatal depression you can call Tweddle during business hours on (03) 9689 1577 and make a time to speak with one of our Psychologists at the Tweddle Infant and Perinatal Psychology Clinic, or speak with someone at the National Perinatal Depression Helpline (PANDA) between 10am and 5pm on 1300 726 306 or Beyond Blue 24/7 on 1300 22 4636.

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