November 10-16 is Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Awareness (PANDA) Week

Up to one in ten women and one in 20 men experience perinatal depression or anxiety. From November 10-16, it is Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Awareness (PANDA) Week. PANDA refers to anxiety and depression found in parents from conception until up to one year from birth.

Dr. Kelly Newell is an Associate Professor at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI). Her research looks into neurological changes in expectant mothers, and is currently looking into the effects of different treatments for depression, including drugs and exercise.

“There is really no research out there to indicate which treatments are effective. It seems to be that the treatments work on the general population for depression, so the assumption is you can use those to treat perinatal depression,” said Dr. Newell.

Dr. Newell says that while there is similar biology in pregnant and not-pregnant women with depression, pregnancy causes neurological changes which could alter the effects of treatment.

“You’ve heard of baby brain – there is a neurobiological basis where you have a reduction in cells in the memory part of the brain, and that’s where your anti-depressant drugs work. That could mean that drugs could be more or less effective, but that research hasn’t been done,” she said.

“We do know that women who go off their medication during pregnancy have a higher risk of relapse or developing post-natal depression, but there is research examine which is the better or safer drug to use.”

Head to the PANDA website for useful resources on how to manage physical and mental health during and after pregnancy.

For more information on Associate Professor Kelly Newell’s research visit this page.


Lizzie Jack, Social Media Coordinator

t: 4221 5432


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