Anxiety Depression During Pregnancy

Anxiety & Depression During Pregnancy: What You Should Know

Worries during pregnancy are very normal, but what if you are experiencing anxiety and depression at this time? Perinatal mental health experts PADA share their guide.

4 min read

 Pregnancy – Expert Article by PADA


Here’s the Information You Need on Anxiety & Depression During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be both exciting and worrying with many changes to deal with. For a woman, her body starts to feel different and her emotions can start to change. She may become a lot more up and down, both in emotional states and energy, as her hormone levels change significantly.

Thoughts of what lies ahead begin to occupy the minds of both the woman and her partner. These often become much more real for women at the time of quickening (when the mother starts to feel the baby move) which is normally at about 20-22 weeks in a first pregnancy.

The relationship between the couple might change as they start to work out how their baby will fit into the family. There may be extra worries about money and whether, or when, the woman will go back to work.

All this is normal, but sometimes this can become overwhelming and depression and anxiety disorders can occur.

It is important to recognise what is normal and what may be a sign of a more serious problem. 40% of women who experience depression in pregnancy will go onto develop PND, unless they get help during pregnancy.

Anxiety Depression During Pregnancy Develop Pnd

What are ‘normal’ worries during pregnancy? And what aren’t?

Initially, there is usually excitement over the positive pregnancy test result. If the pregnancy was unplanned this may not be the case. There may be also worries about whether to continue with the pregnancy.

Common concerns can be:

  • Will you be a good parent?
  • Can you parent alone (if you have no supportive partner)?
  • Can you manage another child?
  • Are you too old or too young to have a child?
  • Will your relationship survive a pregnancy and a baby?
  • Will the baby be alright?
  • Will you carry on working? When will you stop?
  • How will you manage financially?

Reality sets in, especially when some of the normal pregnancy symptoms occur, such as tiredness and morning sickness. Emotions can change. You can be happy and excited one minute then worried and tearful the next. A degree of this is normal. Extremes however, especially if they do not settle down, need to be assessed by a professional.

Anxiety Depression During Pregnancy Unplanned

How’s dad doing? Men worry too

  • Can they cope with the responsibility of a baby?
  • What will happen to their relationship?
  • Will they still be able to play sports or carry on with their normal social activities once a baby arrives?
  • Will their partner still have time for them or will she too interested in the baby?

Especially with a first pregnancy, couples can become very preoccupied with all the physical changes that are occurring with the growing baby.

As the pregnancy progresses, they can become focussed on the delivery, purchasing baby items and preparing the “baby’s room”.

Where there are existing children, couples can worry about the effects a new baby will have on these children. Some start thinking about ways of preparing the children for the “new baby”

Anxiety Depression During Pregnancy Dads Worry

Know The Signs and Seek Help For Yourself or Others

Extra Support Is Essential

Mums and dads who get the support and help that they need with parenting are more relaxed and better able to look after their children. If you or someone you know is mentally unwell, extra support is essential to help with recovery, and we encourage anyone to seek advice from a GP, Midwife, or Plunket nurse in the first instance. You can find out more about perinatal mental health on our website.

The information and advice found on this website is shared with permission from PADA. PADA aims to reflect current medical knowledge and practice, however, this is not a substitute for clinical judgment and individual medical advice. The website authors accept no responsibility for any consequences arising from relying upon the information provided.

PADA take the accuracy of the information they publish on their website very seriously and update it regularly. Please let them know if you think the information is out of date.

Expert Profile: Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Aotearoa

Championing Perinatal Wellbeing in our Communities

The Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Aotearoa (PADA) trust work to eliminate the stigma around perinatal mental health in New Zealand. They do this by championing awareness and facilitating best practice in perinatal mental health and wellbeing to ensure all families have access to appropriate information and support. You can find out more about PADA here.

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