Perinatal Mental Illness

Around 25% of women will experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy or after the birth of their child.

Perinatal mental illness can occur regardless of age, religion, ethnic group or number of previous pregnancies.

Parents often feel they are the only ones who feel like this and that they are failing or are a bad parent. They may feel as they have to put on a brave face, or a “mask”, to hide how they feel and they often manage, barely functioning, for weeks or months before getting help and support.

Common symptoms include

  • Tearfulness, weeping frequently
  • Feeling overwhelmed or having panic attacks
  • Being unable to sleep or feeling exhausted even when you have had sleep
  • No sense of enjoyment and lack of emotions
  • Flashbacks to your labour & birth
  • Feeling grumpy, irritable or angry
  • Constant worry over your own health or that of your child/children
  • Not feeling any emotion to your baby
  • Thoughts that you may harm your child or a member of your family either accidentally or deliberately
  • Self harm
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings

Baby blues

This is very common 3-4 days after giving birth. You may feel tearful often for no apparent reason. This is usually due to the fall of hormones after giving birth and normally resolves itself very quickly. If it does not resolve after 2 weeks it is more likely to be postnatal depression.

Increased risk

Your chances of getting perinatal mental illness increases if:

  • You have a previous history of depression
  • There is a family history of depression
  • A traumatic birth experience
  • Lack of support from partner and family
  • Ongoing stresses, i.e. natural disaster, moving house, changing jobs, financial

Related Conditions

Other less common conditions can occur during pregnancy and after birth and include Bipolar Disorder, Generalised Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Postpartum Psychosis. more information can be found on the Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Aotearoa website about these conditions.

Need Help Now?

If you recognise any of these symptoms in yourself or loved one contact us for support.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, self-harm, or thoughts of harming your baby, please call 111, or seek immediate help from one of these services

‘1737 – Need to talk?’ – free to phone and text – 1737
Crisis Resolution Team – 0800 920 092
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Healthline – 0800 611 116
Samaritans – 0800 726 666

Contact Us for Support

If you or someone you know need support please click the referral button now