perinatal anxiety & depression

What is perinatal anxiety and depression?

Online CBT UK- My Therapist Online

Perinatal refers to the period from conception of a child to the first year after birth. Parental anxiety and depression is a serious and common illness which, according to the UK Government statistic, effects 10-20% of women during pregnancy and the first year after having a baby.

It is more than just good days and bad days.

During the period from conception of a child to the first year after birth, there are many changes and challenges that happen to both parents. It is a mega mix of exciting and challenging but physically and mentally. 

There are a number of changes that occur in a woman body and mind which can effect how she feels. Adjusting to the changes that come with the anticipation of parenthood or the arrival of a new baby is normal and natural. 

Many people experience what is commonly termed the ‘baby blues’ for a few days after the birth, where they might be irritable, teary or low. However, when low mood and feelings of anxiousness are more sustained (for more than 2 weeks) or start to effect how a new mother or father is able to function, they may be experiencing parental anxiety or depression. 

Recognising Perinatal Anxiety or depression 

The symptoms of perinatal anxiety and depression can vary from person, to person. Below is a list of symptoms to look out for. If you or someone close to you experiences any symptoms or feelings that worry you for two weeks or more, please seek support.

Signs may include:

  • Feeling sad, low, or crying for no obvious reason

  • Persistent, generalised worry, often focused on fears for the health or wellbeing of your baby

  • Being nervous, ‘on edge’, or panicky

  • Being easily annoyed or irritated

  • Withdrawing from friends and family

  • Difficulties sleeping, even when your baby is sleeping

  • Abrupt mood swings

  • Feeling constantly tired and lacking energy

  • Physical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, cold sweats, lack of appetite

  • Having little or no interest in the things that normally bring you joy

  • Fear of being alone or with others

  • Finding it difficult to focus, concentrate or remember

  • Increased alcohol or drug use

  • Panic attacks (racing heart, palpitations, shortness of breath, shaking or feeling physically ‘detached’ from your surroundings)

  • Developing obsessive or compulsive behaviours

  • Thoughts of death, suicide or harming your baby.

    Everyone experiences postnatal anxiety & depression differently. The best way for people who are struggling to start feeling better will depend on their own experience – what their symptoms are and how strongly they feel them.

    What we do know is that the sooner people seek support, the sooner they can start feeling better.

Do reach of to My Therapist Online if you would like to speak to an expert online, UK therapist who is trained and experienced in the support and treatment of Perinatal Anxiety or depression. 

Postnatal psychosis (PP)

Postnatal psychosis (PP) is a rare but serious illness that affects 1-2 in every 1000 mothers following childbirth. PP can put both mother and baby at risk. It almost always requires hospital admission. The symptoms often arrive suddenly and can include;

  • extreme mood swings

  • significant behaviour changes

  • hallucinations and delusions

  • mania

  • depression

  • confusion

An episode of PP can be very frightening for women and their families. Most women go on to make a full recovery, however the journey to full recovery can be long and difficult.

If you suspect a new mum you know may have postnatal psychosis, you can:

  • Support her to see a doctor

  • Support her to the nearest hospital emergency department

Please note - Due to the remote nature of Online therapy, it is NOT the best form of treatment for someone with PP.

PP Charity - Action on Postpartum Psychosis - is a national charity for women and families affected by Postpartum Psychosis (PP).