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Helping expectant mums beat the blues

12 November 2019

When most people think about pre and post-natal depression, the focus is the impact this can have on a mother. But a new trial being run by the Parent Infant Research Institute (PIRI) at Austin Health is aiming to manage the potential impact on the baby.

This week is Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Awareness (PANDA) Week and Jennie Ericksen, Clinical Psychologist with PIRI, said the 'Beating the Blue Before Birth' is looking for volunteers who may be experiencing signs of depression during their pregnancy.

"There are more than 50,000 women around Australia who suffer from maternal depression and anxiety each year," Ms Ericksen said.

"And this is not just post-natal depression. The mental health of an expectant mother equally important and can potentially impact on the development of an unborn baby.

"Symptoms such as feeling sad or unhappy most of the time, a loss of pleasure in things that used to be enjoyed, or feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt can all be signs of depression in pregnancy.

"The 'Beating the Blue Before Birth' study is evaluating the impact of giving women access to additional support including behavioural therapy sessions with a psychologist to help them learn strategies that can improve how they manage their moods.

"The study provides seven, one-hour sessions with a psychologist focussing on things mothers-to-be can do to manage their symptoms and develop the skills to deal with negative thoughts that can be linked with depression.

"The program also includes a session for couples as well as ongoing monitoring and regular follow up until babies reach 24 months.

"Depression in pregnancy is no different to feeling the symptoms of depression at any time in your life and the good news is that these symptoms are treatable," she said.

Ms Ericksen said Post and Antenatal Depression and Anxiety (PANDA) Awareness Week runs from November 10th to 16th.

"It's so important that mothers and pregnant women, and their partners, know that support and treatment is available to help manage feelings of depression," she said.

"There are a number of other resources available for mums who may be feeling overwhelmed during and after pregnancy including the www.mumspace.com.au website which was developed by PIRI to help women and their families," Ms Ericksen said.

For more information or if you would like to be involved in the  'Beating the Blue Before Birth' study please contact (03) 9496 4496 or email piri@austin.org.au. The trial is looking for more than 100 women and is open for registrations now.

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