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Depression and anxiety during pregnancy

depression; anxiety; antenatal; ante; natal; ante-natal;

Pregnancy, birth and early parenthood are times of great change. Having a baby can be the biggest life change that you will ever have. Depression and anxiety can occur at any time in your life, and can often come to the surface with major events like pregnancy or having a baby. The risk is higher if you have been depressed in the past.

  • Around 12 per cent of pregnant women in Australia experience antenatal depression – depression during pregnancy. 
  • Postnatal depression (PND) is depression that a woman experiences in the months after the birth of her baby. Postnatal depression affects almost 1 in 6 women in Australia (15%).

If you are concerned that you, or someone you know, have symptoms of depression talk with a doctor or health professional. It is important to seek help – the sooner the better.

Support and treatment are important. Various treatments are available, and a good understanding of the risks of not treating depression and anxiety, as well as the risks of treating them is very important.  If antidepressant medication is needed, there are medications which are believed to be safe and effective even for women who are pregnant.

Many fathers also feel depressed during pregnancy, or more often after the birth, but often they do not seek help. Have a look at the topic 'Fathers and depression after the birth of their baby'.

In addition to professional help, it is good to speak to other women who may have had similar problems. In South Australia the staff at Helen Mayo House (telephone (08) 7087 1030) may be able to put you in touch with community groups. Helen Mayo House provides inpatient services for parents who have significant mental health problems in the postnatal period.

More information

Raising Children Network 

PANDA (Perinatal anxiety and depression Australia)

Information in other languages

There is information in many languages on the website of the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service. 


Children of parents with a mental illness (COPMI)

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see your doctor or midwife.


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