CQUniversity Australia

Receiving treatment for anxiety during pregnancy pays off after birth 

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Initial research is indicating that women who receive therapy to manage their anxiety during pregnancy are much less likely to be anxious or have post-natal depression after birth, which also reduces anxiety and relationship pressures in the wider family environment.

One in seven new mothers are affected by postnatal depression and as many as one in five experience anxiety or depression during pregnancy. New research from beyondblue has revealed the stigma relating to antenatal and postnatal mental health stops them from asking for help.

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CQUniversity researcher Anita Nepean-Hutchison is currently trialling a program that she has written for pregnant women and her pilot-level study has delivered ‘fantastic' outcomes.

While the program is currently being run on the Gold Coast where she works as psychologist, the program of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) before birth and CBT and interpersonal therapy (IPT) sessions during the new-mum stage are currently being planned further afield next year, from the Psychology Wellness Clinic at CQUniversity's Rockhampton Campus.

"A small amount of anxiety during pregnancy is relatively common, but by teaching women who experience significant anxiety some strategies to better manage and reduce their anxiety early we can reduce the likelihood of developing post-natal depression, which also benefits the wider family unit," she says.

"Participation in this study will help us find out more about prenatal and postnatal anxiety, and the prevention of anxiety for children," she says.

"If you are pregnant and you experience feelings of dread; have trouble concentrating; have feelings of being overwhelmed; often anticipate the worst; and/or worry about many things; your experience may help us with information that could improve the lives of other mums and children."

 Ms Nepean-Hutchison is keen to hear from anyone who would like to be involved in her research, or who would like details. She is contactable via 0487 807 989 or a.nepean-hutchison@cqu.edu.au .