Canberran mum's journey with postnatal depression
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Canberran mum's journey with postnatal depression

Bubbly bub Lucinda was about a week old when a midwife warned Alex Warner's partner she was battling the "baby blues".

It was a hint of what was to come.

Alex Warner of Nicholls, with 14-month-old daughter Lucinda, wants more new mums to talk about postnatal depression.

Alex Warner of Nicholls, with 14-month-old daughter Lucinda, wants more new mums to talk about postnatal depression.Credit:Karleen Minney

"It progressively sort of just hung around," the Nicholls mum said.

"I'm normally quite a bubbly person and outgoing and I noticed I didn't really want to go anywhere. As much as I love to go to the shops, I used to get really tight-chested and didn't like being around crowds.

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Lucinda Christian.

Lucinda Christian.Credit:Karleen Minney

"If people came over, one or two people in the house was enough for me."

Perinatal depression and anxiety affects up to 20 per cent of mums and 10 per cent of dads. One in seven mothers are diagnosed with postnatal depression alone.

Post and Ante Natal Depression Support and Information Inc (PANDSI) made more than 2600 calls of support to check in with families in 2015. The figure grows by about 20 per cent every year.

With 300 clients on the books – and growing – the organisation is keen to let parents know that help is out there.

"A lot of people ask what causes PND and there's so many factors. What I get asked when I'm out in the field is is it hormonal," PANDSI community development worker Kim Senini said.

"Yes, there could be an element of that, but we call it the perfect storm, it's so many factors. The mother-in-law's giving them a hard time, the baby wasn't well, the baby's premature, the husband's been posted overseas on a posting, lots of things sort of culminate in them having PND."

Lucinda's birth and temperament were, in Ms Warner's words, perfect, but she felt unprepared for the changes in life brought by motherhood.

"I was so confident and so aware of who I was, then all of a sudden no one had prepared me for this whole motherhood thing, and all of a sudden my world had totally changed – in a good way, I wouldn't change a thing – but that was where I started to question myself," Ms Warner said.

"I just felt horrible. I felt like I was trapped. I felt like I was alone even though I knew I wasn't."

Weekly calls from PANDSI have dropped back to fortnightly check-ins since she connected with them in January and Ms Warner said she feels "80 per cent there".

She said she felt the statistics did not reveal the true extent of the issue.

"No one talks about it and that's what frustrates me the most," Ms Warner said.

"We need to open up about it and not make it feel like it's a terrible thing to have, like it's a mental health issue you need to be ashamed of. It's just part of life."

Postnatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week runs from November 13 to 19.

Emily Baker is a reporter for the Sunday Canberra Times. She previously reported on education for The Canberra Times.

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