As equally prevalent and just as debilitating as depression, anxiety has become the focus for this year’s Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness (PNDA) Week, with more than 50 per cent of callers to the Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) National Helpline experiencing symptoms of anxiety.
Anxiety has now been identified as an important part of the conversation around perinatal depression and has prompted a formal name change for the annual awareness week, which, from this year forward, will be known as Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week (15 – 21 Nov), acknowledging that the challenges faced by parents fall across a wide spectrum that’s not all black and white.
Over 1800 Australian parents each week are now diagnosed with antenatal or postnatal depression, with the illnesses costing Australia close to half a billion dollars – a figure that doesn’t include those touched by perinatal anxiety according to PANDA CEO Terri Smith.
“We know up to 1 in 7 women and 1 in 10 men will experience postnatal depression but the issues aren’t as black and white as this, nor are they restricted to the period after birth.
“There are many shades of grey during the volatile perinatal period, which includes the time during pregnancy as well, with as many different experiences as there are people,” said the CEO of PANDA, which has recently changed its name to reinforce the important reference to anxiety.
“We’re finding that anxiety is now just as common as depression and many parents experience both anxiety and depression at the same time so it needs to be front of mind as a health concern during pregnancy and after birth.
“Anxiety is not as well recognised and risks being overlooked because people may wrongly assume that the symptoms are not as debilitating or distressing as those associated with depression.
“There’s a range of challenges on the pathway to parenthood and it can often be hard to make sense of what’s happening and how you feel about it. Many parents feel overwhelmed, isolated and ashamed for feeling this way and need to know that these thoughts are common and that help is available.”
PANDA are also encouraging parents to speak openly and honestly with each other during PNDA Awareness Week through their Lunch Out Loud initiative, which encourages friends and workmates to get together for a positive and honest conversation about parenthood over lunch – wherever that may be. More information can be found on their website.
PANDA’s free National Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Helpline offers counseling, information and referral services with ongoing telephone support for families throughout Australia and the PANDA website contains a range of helpful materials for parents.
PANDA’s Helpline: 1300 726 306 (operates Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm EST).
PANDA is a not for profit organization that has been raising awareness of antenatal and postnatal depression for over 30 years and has helped tens of thousands of Australians get vital information, support and treatment to aid their recovery.
For interview opportunities with PANDA’s CEO Terri Smith and first person accounts of perinatal anxiety and depression, please contact:
Katie Wilke at Square One PR:
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