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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Can postnatal depression affect my child?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia.beyondblue is a bipartisan initiative of … View Profile

    If a person is experiencing ongoing and/or severe depression it is likely to impact on her ability to function and the quality of interaction with her baby. Research has demonstrated that in such cases this can impact on the attachment of the baby to the mother, and if this continues it can affect the cognitive and emotional development of the baby. This is why it is so important to identify and treat depression, anxiety and mental health problems as early as possible, so we can reduce the negative impact of these conditions on the wellbeing not only of the mother, but also her baby, partner and other family members (including other children). With treatment, in many cases these negative impacts on the infant can be ‘undone’, but identification and treatment is very important- for the whole family.

  • Brigitte Safrana

    Counsellor, Hypnotherapist

    I created Surfing The Blues and Surfing The Baby Blues Counselling & Hypnotherapy services in order to help individuals and couples restore balance in their … View Profile

    Most definitely. It is not only going to affect your child but also your partner, family and the mother as well. The child in particular is going to be affected in development and through the bonding with the mother that is not processing properly.

  • 1

    Agree

    I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    While the above information is certainly true, what is most important is seeking help for your post-natal depression. With the right help you can certainly make sure that your child is not adversely affected - at least not in the longer term. It's really important that you don't beat yourself up for struggling with PND, and with the demands of parenting - this will only compound the problems! 

  • Linda Phillips

    Psychologist

    Linda is a highly trained and thoughtful, clinical psychologist committed to providing sensitive and personalised treatment. She has extensive training in psychological interventions such as … View Profile

    In all human interactions we impact on, and are impacted by, each other.  Probably never more so than in interactions between parent and infant.

    Research has shown that it is not PN depression in and of itself that adversely affects infants but the degree to which depression impacts the parent-infant relationship.  Like any stressor, depression has varying impacts on areas of our lives (eg some people suffer greatly with depression and achieve highly in the workplace, others struggle to leave the house, some can maintain social contacts, for others this is too difficult).

    It has been well documented that the parents play a crucial role in their child's development. However, all any parent (or human being for that matter) can do is to be "good enough". Good enough parenting involves being in tune and responsive enough to the child.  This can counterbalance the times we are inevitably too tired, angry, impacted by depression etc. In good enough conditions the child learns that the people we love sometimes let us down and vice versa but the relationship still survives.  

    As Vivienne and others pointed out above, support is the most important factor.  It is so important parents feel supported to talk frankly about all aspects of their experience.  It is essential they can access support where they do not feel harshly scrutinised (most are harsh enough on themselves already!), or if they do feel this way, they are able to raise their feelings and talk them through productively.  Overall, it is imperative parents feel someone is working with them to try and understand and make sense all of their experiences with an attitude of genuine compassion.

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