Awareness day for postnatal depression

ONE in seven of Dubbo's new mothers are suffering from postnatal depression.

The alarming statistic, applicable nationwide, has prompted the Western NSW Local Health District and non-government organisations to run a free family fun day in the city.

The event aims to break down stigma surrounding the common health issue and encourage new and expectant parents to seek help at an early stage. Victoria Park will host the fun day on November 22, during Postnatal Depression Awareness Week.

Health district spokeswoman Christina Hunt said the week aimed to put both antenatal and postnatal depression in the spotlight.

"Untreated, postnatal depression can lead to ongoing mental health issues that can affect all aspects of a woman's life, particularly her relationships with others including her new baby," she said. "I want all parents to recognise that help is available, recovery is possible and it's OK to talk about it."

Ms Hunt, the health district's parenting, perinatal and infant care in mental health clinical co-ordinator, said anxiety disorders were also common among new mothers, and could "occur alone or with depression".

"Fathers and partners can also experience mental health problems around this time," she said. Ms Hunt also drew a line between depression and the so-called baby blues.

"Postnatal anxiety and depression should not be confused with the baby blues, which is experienced by up to 80 per cent of women three to ten days after giving birth, and usually passes within a few days," she said.

The family fun day, from 4pm to 7pm, will include children's activities, relaxation activities for adults, child and adult Zumba, laughter yoga, giveaways, power tool demonstration, guest speaker Maggie Dent, information stalls and a free barbecue.

"The family fun day aims to ensure that everyone leaves feeling good about themselves and also knows where they can go for help if they feel as though their mental health might be affecting their ability to function on a daily basis and carry out their new parenting roles," Ms Hunt said.

kim.bartley@ruralpress.com

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