Tweddle World Mental Health Day

Help a phone call away for Mums and Dads experiencing perinatal anxiety and depression

Help a phone call away for Mums and Dads experiencing perinatal anxiety and depression

By Kerrie Gottliebsen

This week is perinatal depression and anxiety awareness week (12th-18th Nov).  At Tweddle, the importance of perinatal mental health is crucial. Tweddle’s parenting programs help thousands of parents every year, many experiencing a combination of stress, anxiety and depression.

Mums and dads admitted to a Residential program undertake a ‘Depression, Anxiety & Stress Scale’ (DASS) with a skilled clinician. The DASS is a self-report tool designed to measure negative emotional states of depression, anxiety and stress.

“We know that the compounding impacts of these complex emotional states on parents has a significant flow on effect for babies” said Kirsty Evans, Tweddle Director of Nursing.

According to Beyond Blue, antenatal depression (during pregnancy), affects up to one in ten women (9 per cent) in Australia. Up to one in seven women (almost 16 per cent) experience postnatal depression, which develops between one month and up to one year after the birth.  Depression can start before or during pregnancy and continue after childbirth. The term perinatal depression covers the whole period from conception until a baby is 12 months old.

Dads also experience postnatal depression. According to Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA), one in 10 men will suffer depression and or anxiety during or after their partner’s pregnancy.

The characteristics of high DASS scores include the inability to relax, being intolerant of interruption or delay, irritability, apprehension, panicky feelings and the inability to experience enjoyment or satisfaction.

“Pregnancy and the first year of parenthood are supposed to be joyful times, but for many this simply isn’t the case” said Ms Evans. “ While at Tweddle, clinicians work on addressing the stressors on the family therefore reducing the stressors affecting babies”

An important part of recovery for mums and dads experiencing perinatal depression and anxiety is to seek a referral from a GP or family doctor for a referral to mental health support. Organisations like PANDA offer telephone support which is important for speaking with someone who knows what you are going through.

“The good news is that recovery is possible. We know mums and dads want to enjoy their babies. If stress, anxiety or depression is getting in the way of being the parent you’d like to be, reach out to the following organisations for support.

Tweddle Child & Family Health Service (03) 9689 1577 during business hours

PANDA 9am – 7.30 pm Monday – Friday

Beyond Blue 1300 224 636  – 24 hours

Lifeline 13 11 14 – 24 hours


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