Perinatal depression or anxiety are not only distressing conditions, they can also be disabling, so the earlier you get help the better. If perinatal depression or anxiety is acknowledged and addressed, it is likely to pass sooner and be less severe than if you get no help. It is then also less likely to affect the relationship between you and your baby.
There are many health professionals who are familiar with these issues and who can provide you with support in several different ways. These may include your GP, midwife, counsellor or complementary practitioner.
Research suggests that the treatment most women prefer for perinatal depression or anxiety is a combination of practical support and advice, talk therapies and support groups. If necessary, antidepressants may be helpful.
Counselling and talking therapies
There are a range of talking treatments that have been shown to work for all types of depression and anxiety. Cognitive behaviour therapy is one of the most well known. Talking therapies are provided through face-to-face, phone, group or online programmes.
Often you can refer yourself to a private counsellor or psychologist. For funded services, ask your health provider what the options are in your region and for a referral.
For help and support(external link)(external link) Plunket, NZ
Education and courses
Learning about perinatal depression and anxiety can you understand what you are experience and can be a huge help in your recovery. Your doctor or other health professional will be able to give you information about perinatal depression or anxiety, suggest ways to cope with it and discuss any complications which could occur. There are also online courses you can take or ask your midwife or doctor about courses or groups in your area.
Perinatal depression and anxiety recovery and prevention course(external link)(external link) (sessions available in the Auckland area and online) Mothers Helpers, NZ
Sometimes medication is helpful or needed. Talk about the pros and cons with your doctor and together find one that works for you and has the least side effects for your baby.
Once you start taking antidepressant medication, keep taking it every day. It takes several weeks to work and most side effects are mild and go away with time. If you have any concerns about possible side effects, talk with your pharmacist or doctor right away.
Read more about some of the common myths of antidepressants(external link)(external link) Mothers Helpers, NZ
The term complementary therapy is generally used to indicate therapies and treatments that differ from conventional Western medicine and that may be used to complement and support it.
Certain complementary therapies may enhance your life and help you to maintain wellbeing. In general, mindfulness, hypnotherapy, yoga, exercise, relaxation, massage, mirimiri and aromatherapy have all been shown to have some effect in alleviating mental distress. When considering taking any supplement, herbal or medicinal preparation talk to your doctor to make sure it is safe and will not harm your health, eg, by interacting with any other medications you are taking.