The Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) 2016 annual lunch promotes conversations

By being present at the annual lunch today, I have now become a part of the conversation, here’s what I learnt.

Perinatal anxiety and depression affects both mothers and fathers.

It is important as an outsider, whether a friend, a family member or a health professional, to recognise when a parent is not coping and to act immediately by asking them about their emotional wellbeing.

Perinatal anxiety and depression sufferers tend to hide their symptoms from everybody, even doctors, causing the illness to manifest and stalling early intervention.

Some sufferers have trouble identifying the symptoms and knowing what’s normal. Miki Perkins, Journalist at The Age describes that unknowingness on the discussion panel today: “I’m in hell, but maybe this is what it’s like?”

Jenni Richardson, PANDA National Helpline and Programs Manager discussed the issue with the current lack in community support as well as the perils of social media as an unhealthy medium for parents, as it enhances an expectation to portray a certain lifestyle. Examples of this projection are body image and socialising.

“Shame is the hugest obstacle, the greatest obstacle to getting help and becoming healthy,” said Richardson.

“Perinatal anxiety and depression is a double-whammy, sufferers are dealing with the stigmas of mental illness as well as their core-selves” said Richardson.

The ideas of pregnancy and parenthood are fed to the community as a loving and happy time in our lives. An image of parents smiling, looking into their children’s eyes is what we envisage for ourselves, when inner-feelings are conflicting that ideal image, it’s natural to question yourself.

Some symptoms of perinatal anxiety and depression are:





Inability to connect with newborn


Some triggers are:

Loss of identity

Inability to breastfeed

Loss of intimacy with other children (if not first child)

The sudden change in lifestyle

Feeling inadequate in parental duties and responsibilities


The illness can be managed, and like many mental illnesses the severity of the symptoms can be temporary. But left untreated and the outcome can be tragic, like the loss of Louise Litis. *Interview with husband Dean Litis

Although it is too soon to know what triggered Sanaya Sahib’s mother to murder her toddler just days ago, Sanaya was not far from all of our minds today.


Terri Smith CEO of PANDA and Matt Tilley, TV and radio host at KIIS 101.1 FM were also involved in the running of today’s lunch.


For more information on perinatal anxiety and depression contact PANDA

PANDA National Helpline

Mon to Fri, 10am – 5pm AEST

1300 726 306




Madison Manning; the creative writer, the literature scholar, the photographer.

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