Health conditions

Generalised anxiety disorder – emotional health for new parents

What is generalised anxiety disorder?

Most people accept that a little worry or stress is normal – especially when you’re having a baby.

However, it is not healthy to feel worried all the time.

A person experiencing extreme and constant worries may be diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).

People with GAD have worries that are difficult to control and these often interfere with their daily life.

Symptoms of GAD may include:

  • extreme amounts of anxiety or worrying
  • feeling edgy and restless
  • having trouble concentrating
  • feeling very tired
  • having trouble falling asleep in the early evening
  • having tense muscles.

About 4 to 9 per cent of women will experience GAD when they are pregnant or after birth.

Mothers with GAD may:

  • be constantly worried about their pregnancy or their baby
  • quite often feel the need to visit their health professional, so they can be reassured everything is ok
  • have nausea (feel sick)
  • have trouble sleeping (even when their baby is sleeping well).

Where to get help

  • See your doctor, obstetrician, child health nurse or midwife
  • Talk to a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist
  • Phone the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Helpline on 1800 882 436
  • Phone the Mental Health Emergency Response Line – Perth metro 1300 55 788 or Peel 1800 676 822
  • Phone Rural Link, an after-hours mental health phone service for rural communities, on 1800 552 002
  • Phone the Post and Antenatal Depression Association helpline on 1300 726 306 (9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday)
  • Phone the Parenting Line on 1800 654 432
  • Visit healthdirect (external site) or call 1800 022 222

Women and Newborn Health Service

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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