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Could postnatal depression be anxiety?

By Dr Karen Wynter

Could postnatal depression be anxiety?

Research Fellow at the Jean Hailes Research Unit, Dr Karen Wynter, joins Penny Johnstone on ABC Melbourne's Babytalk to discuss whether some cases of anxiety could be misdiagnosed as postnatal depression.

Dr Wynter discusses the Jean Hailes Research Unit findings which report anxiety as a significant problem for new parents, both mother and father. 

For the first time Dr Wynter's research has followed the experiences of fathers as well as mothers in their first six months as parents. 

The research reported that one third of women who have recently given birth experience anxiety symptoms and 17% of first time fathers feel anxious in the first six months. 

"Feeling worried is normal when having a new baby, it is when the worry and anxiety interferes with daily life and the feelings become more frequent than others that it becomes a problem," said Dr Wynter.

Dr Wynter's interests lie in perinatal mental health. "I think there is a growing awareness worldwide as it is not only to do with preventing depression, it is to do with preventing anxiety because new parents have anxiety. We have started to look more broadly at mental health problems in general in the postpartum period and mental health and wellbeing in general in the antenatal and postnatal period."

Dr Wynter has a background in psychology and applied statistics. Her recent research projects have focused on psychosocial determinants of women's and men's postnatal mental health and her interests include perinatal anxiety in the context of the mother-father-baby relationships.

Listen to the ABC Babytalk segment.

Visit the Jean Hailes Anxiety hub for more information on anxiety and worry when you are a new mum and access helpful tools and resources.

Posted in:  A new reality  Health Professionals  Your needs