Research reveals that postpartum anxiety is more common than postnatal depression

We hear a lot about women suffering from postnatal depression but what about postpartum anxiety?

Often, medical experts can miss the signs of postpartum anxiety, labelling it as postnatal depression.

However, postnatal anxiety is something many mums experience, whether it’s with their first or fourth baby.

Research reveals that postpartum anxiety is more common than postnatal depression

Postpartum anxiety is more common than postnatal depression

A study by the University of British Columbia found that more new mums suffer from postpartum anxiety, as much as 17 per cent, compared to postnatal depression, which affected only 5 per cent.

Lead researcher Dr. Nicole Fairbrother says it’s important distinguishing between the two symptoms, to make sure a new mum is getting the right treatment.

“Pregnant women and postpartum women who are suffering from an anxiety disorder may not be getting the screening or assessment or treatment that they need,” she says.

“This is because we aren’t thinking to ask about these kinds of concerns as we’re so focused on depression.

“Sometimes people have these really serious anxiety problems that, if they go untreated, can lead to the development of depression.

“If we’re not asking about anxiety, we may not know.”

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The difference between postnatal depression and postpartum anxiety

Postnatal depression (PND) doesn’t discriminate – it can hit anyone at any time, mums and dads included.

Stats reveal it affects one in seven new mums and can occur after the first, last or after all pregnancies and usually occurs after the baby is born and can last up until a year.

Symptoms of postnatal depression include:

  • Feeling exhausted
  • Feeling Anxious
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Having a low mood
  • Feeling down or a failure
  • Worrying about your baby
  • Crying excessively, feeling irritable, mood swings or panic attacks
  • Fear of being alone with your baby
  • Fear of being alone or going out

Currently, there is no known cause for it with many experts believing it’s down to the surge in hormones a woman experiences during and after pregnancy.

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Postpartum anxiety can occur for no particular reason or could occur because either a mum or dad is feeling anxious about a certain situation or event.

Signs of postpartum anxiety include:

  • Feeling on edge
  • Having constant feelings of worry or fear
  • Struggling to sleep
  • Worrying about your baby
  • Panic attacks
  • General anxiety
  • Social phobia (fear of going out)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Anxiety during pregnancy can often result in woman being at greater risk for postpartum depression and may also affect pregnancy outcomes.

What’s more, up to half of people who have postnatal anxiety with suffer from postnatal depression at the same time.

If your anxiety is mild, your GP may refer you to talk to someone. For more serious anxieties, you made need treatment with medicine or psychological therapies.

Getting the support you need

If you or someone you know is struggling, then remember you are not alone. Have a look at our story on what every mum who has experienced PND needs to hear as well as our post natal depression archives for ways to get the help you deserve.

For more on the signs and symptoms of postnatal depression visit


PANDA National Helpline – 1300 726 306

Beyond Blue 1300 224 636

Join our Healthy Mummy support groups for support through other mums, judgement-free!