It’s natural to be excited about the arrival of a new baby, but when that excitement turns to anxiety, it can be a signal for a mental health condition that often goes undetected.
Experts are finding anxiety around the birth of a baby is just as common as postnatal depression.
Dr Liana Leach, a mental health researcher at the Australian National University came to her findings after reviewing 43 separate studies.
The studies found anxiety before and after the birth of a baby are just as prevalent as depression. What’s more surprising is new dads are suffering baby blues too. It affects 1 in 10 men and half the rate for women.
Dr Leach explained men can feel out of the process up until birth because the mother is so integrally linked to her child through pregnancy and childbirth.
Dr Leach told the Daily Mail, ‘It can compound the problem. They don’t seek help, because they think “it’s not so much about me”.’
It’s poorly understood what causes anxiety and depression when a new baby arrives.
Dr Leach said: ‘Having a new baby is a time of great adjustment for many parents, and it is normal to be nervous. But, anxiety can become a problem when it persists for extended periods and interferes with every day functioning.’
Some of the symptoms include being overcome with worry, feeling irritable and insistent fears for the baby’s safety. A racing heart, feeling sweaty, poor sleep and lack of appetite are some of the physical symptoms.
Dr Leach encourages there is good help available and it’s important to visit their doctor in the instance they experience these symptoms.
‘Couples should be aware of their mental health right from when they realise they are pregnant,’ she said. Early intervention reduces the severity and duration of symptoms.’
Often lack of social support, financial difficulties and a history of mental health problems can increase ones’ risk of developing anxiety before the birth of a child.
Dr Leach added: ‘Health care during the perinatal period should be about the whole family.’