3 benefits of early access to psychological support in pregnancy

Should you wait until you’re depressed before you reach out for help? 

It’s a common misconception that psychological support and therapy is only for people who have a diagnosed mental health condition, like postnatal depression. What’s more, many women delay seeking help because they explain away their symptoms as the baby blues, or sleep deprivation or adjusting to parenthood when these may be early signs of perinatal anxiety or depression.

1 in 5 women will experience perinatal anxiety and depression, during pregnancy and/or in the first twelve months after birth.

Early intervention, which means seeking help earlier rather than later, is key. While therapy is effective in the treatment of perinatal mental illness, it can also be used as a preventative measure, too. It can prevent relapse and reduce the severity of the depression when support is accessed early.

Before we discuss the 3 benefits of early access to psychological support in pregnancy, read on to discover whether you could benefit from it.

Who could benefit from early support?

There are a number of factors that place some women more at risk of developing perinatal anxiety or depression than other women. These include:

  • A history of anxiety, depression or another mental health condition, especially a perinatal mental illness.
  • A family history of mental illness. Just like with any medical condition -like diabetes or heart disease- if there’s a family history of anxiety, depression, bipolar or schizophrenia, then you have an increased risk compared to someone without a family history.
  • Psychosocial stressors: relationship strain, financial worries, social isolation, unemployment, limited social and emotional support.
  • Emerging symptoms of anxiety or depression in the antenatal period. If you notice a change in your mood and you’re feeling increasingly worried in your pregnancy, this may place you at increased risk of developing PND.
  • Unplanned pregnancies are a known risk factor for PND.

If, during pregnancy, you’re thinking more about your own childhood experiences and the way you were parented and you want to provide a different experience for your child, then therapy can provide a safe space to explore this.

While risk factors such as those listed above do not guarantee you will experience perinatal depression or anxiety, knowing if you have these risk factors can help you be more aware of how you’re feeling during pregnancy or after your baby is born.

3 Benefits of early access to psychological support in pregnancy

There are many benefits, for both you and your baby, when you access early psychological support and therapy.

  1. If you’ve experienced anxiety or depression in the past, connecting with a professional in pregnancy can help with identifying triggers and understanding ‘normal’ mood fluctuations in the perinatal period. It also means you have an established connection with a professional if you do experience postnatal depression. If you’ve previously been on medication or would like to be, this is a great opportunity to explore your options and come up with a plan that fits with your circumstances.
  2. Mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety or depression can be addressed prior to birth which means you’ll be in a better emotional space once your baby is born.
  3. Reflection and awareness. Therapy provides space to understand your experiences, past and present, as well as insight into your coping mechanisms. You can reflect on your own experiences of being parented and how this impacts your parenting style. Many parents have a strong desire to parent differently to their own but find when they are exhausted and feeling stressed they tend to fall back into old habits. They find themselves parenting in ways they don’t want to. Early intervention can help you reflect on these struggles and support the bond you have with your baby in a safe, non-judgmental space.

We know that caring for a baby is really challenging when you’re feeling depressed or anxious, not to mention the sleep deprivation! Treating symptoms earlier has better outcomes for mums and bubs.

If you’re a new or expectant parent feeling concerned about your mood, discuss how you’re feeling with your general practitioner, midwife or child and family nurse. Alternatively, you can reach out to your local or state-based perinatal mental health service.


In Australia you can reach the PANDA national helpline on 1300 726 306 Monday to Saturday.

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