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New study reveals pandemic-related concerns leads to increased risk of perinatal depression


Extreme stress or emergencies such as a pandemic lead to heightened anxiety and depression

Perinatal depression and anxiety affect almost 100,000 expectant and new parents in Australia each year, including one in ten non-birthing partners

Major life-threatening public health events such as the COVID-19 pandemic may increase the incidence of perinatal depression, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinic and Health.

Marking Perinatal Mental Health Week, championed by Gidget Foundation Australia, Australian healthcare practitioners are shining the spotlight on the increase in depressive and anxiety symptoms as presented by their patients. 45 Perinatal and early parenting organisations are uniting together to share the single message ‘We’re here, We get it!’.

The study found that women with greater concerns about the threat of being infected, healthcare changes, and lack of information during birth and infant care due to COVID-19 had a higher risk of depression and further research has also highlighted that perinatal mental disorders are associated with increased risk of psychological and developmental disturbances in children.

“Our Pharmacists have seen a marked increase in the number of patients turning to our teams for guidance and support and sharing their concerns around becoming a parent during this time,” said Claire Robertson, Pharmacist Owner, Blooms The Chemist Wagga Wagga.

“At Blooms The Chemist our Pharmacists are trained in mental wellbeing first aid and are alert to symptoms of anxiety and depression, which in instances of PNDA, can then be supported by the specialist trained team at Gidget Foundation Australia, whose important work helps families suffering distress during pregnancy and early parenting,” she said.

“Studies have shown that perinatal depression may also be associated with an increased risk of offspring emotional, behavioural, and cognitive difficulties,3 making the need for integrated physical and mental wellbeing support imperative to reduce the chances of impacting future born children,” she concluded.

“Anxiety and depression in parents in the lead up to the birth of a child and shortly after, has always had a significant impact within families and across the entire community, many of whom do not seek support and are confronted with overwhelming worries and concerns. This is now further heightened with apprehension around COVID infection and other concerns,” says Blooms The Chemist CEO, Emmanuel Vavoulas.

“During the pandemic we have seen changes to usual pregnancy and childbirth experiences, including distancing from family members, hospital restrictions, remote consultations and general disconnection from what would usually be a collective experience,” Dr Erin Seeto, Counselling Psychologist & Clinical Team Leader, Gidget Foundation Australia.

“Gidget Foundation Australia are pleased to be working in partnership with Blooms The Chemist as their philosophy is to put people first. The theme of Perinatal Mental Health week is, “We’re here, we get it”. For expectant and new parents alleviating concerns and providing timely advice and support is crucial. With Blooms this means, connecting with a healthcare practitioner who is caring, accessible and trained to support their mental wellbeing strategies,” she said.

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