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Top tips for Mitcham mums on mental health

Oct 04, 2019

Pregnant women with a history of anxiety or depression are being urged to prepare a mental health plan before their babies are born.

Mitcham Private Hospital Perinatal Mental Health Services Manager Libby Crosby says even minor underlying or previous mental health conditions can have a devastating impact on new mums after the birth of a baby.

“The hormonal shift that follows the birth of a baby coupled with the change in lifestyle in becoming a mother can set off or amplify underlying mental health conditions,” Mrs Crosby said.

“This is particularly true for many professional, working women who are accustomed to managing their lives successfully and who have often continued working until late in their pregnancies, leaving little time to prepare mentally for after the baby arrives.”

Mrs Crosby said the perinatal mental health unit at Ramsay Health Care’s Mitcham Private Hospital is seeing a rise in patients from the growing awareness around perinatal mental health.

“We are seeing an increase in anxiety and depression in mothers and a rise in the severity of mental health issues amongst women in that perinatal period,” Mrs Crosby said.

“Many women focus on their physical health during pregnancy and tend not to think about their mental wellbeing as much.”

To mark the start of Mental Health Week (October 5 – 11), Mrs Crosby is offering three top tips for mental wellbeing for pregnant women and new mums:

  • Take a holistic approach. Identify any history of anxiety, depression or other mental illness and put a plan in place. This can be as simple as talking to your GP.
  • Work with your partner to keep an open mind. There are multiple unknowns in having a baby, making it impossible to mentally prepare for one. Try not to set ideal notions of the birth or the household routine once baby comes along.
  • Create a community of supportive people before the baby is born. Women in Australian often work until late in their pregnancies and no longer have multi-generational help at home after they give birth. It’s therefore vital that they develop a network of people they can rely on.

More than 7 million Australians aged 16 to 85 will experience a common mental health disorder during their lifetime.

Ramsay Health Care, Australia’s largest private provider of acute mental health services has compiled a list of its five most commonly treated mental health disorders to help raise awareness of the conditions:

1. Mood disorders Comprise 45 per cent of all patients treated.
Includes depression, bipolar disorder, dysthymia and other disorders characterised by the elevation or lowering of mood.
2. Addictions Comprise 25 per of all patients treated.
Physical and emotional dependence on substances or behaviours which may include drugs, alcohol, gambling and/or gaming.
3. Anxiety Disorders Comprise 15 per cent of all patients treated.
Symptoms can include muscular tension, heart palpitations, inability to concentrate, sleep or undertake normal activities and a feeling of intense fear and persistent and excessive worry.
(Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Comprise 10 per cent of all patients treated.
A set of stress reactions in response to experiencing witnessing a life-threatening event such as an attack or assault, wartime conflict, natural disaster or serious accident. Symptoms may include re-experiencing the traumatic event, avoidance of any reminders, hyper-vigilance and feeling emotionally numb.
5. Psychotic Disorders Comprise 5 per cent of all patients treated.
An impaired interpretation of reality commonly associated with hallucinations and delusions

Source: Ramsay Health Care