perinatal depression

Perinatal Depression – Exercise can help!

It’s okay to not be okay…You’re not alone!

Parenthood is a major change and sometimes, a major challenge in people’s lives. It’s quite common and normal to experience symptoms of sadness and anxiety.

The Stats

One in ten prenatal women suffer from some form of anxiety and depression. This figure rises to one in five ladies once given birth. Let’s not forget about the dads out there, with one in ten new fathers also experience a form of depression and anxiety.

It’s time to break the stigma around this very true, real, exhausting illness. So, let’s start by taking a look at what can cause perinatal depression and anxiety.

Triggers may include:

Everyone is different and so is the way in which we can come to experience anxiety or depression. Some common triggers include:

  • Trouble with baby or breastfeeding
  • Being a perfectionist and feeling that you aren’t in control this new addition in your life
  • Complications during labour
  • Being a single parent or detachment from family and friends
  • Juggling “a new way of life”
  • Feelings of isolation


Symptoms of perinatal depression/anxiety:

  • Feeling like you’re a “bad parent”
  • Can’t cope with everyday tasks
  • Feeling of sadness
  • Constantly irritated
  • Crying for no reason
  • Unable to sleep
  • Constantly worried about the baby


Where to get help

There are plenty of professionals and strategies you can use to help manage and treat perinatal anxiety and depression. Some of these include:


Whether it’s structured or just a run when you have some free time, exercise can help! Fresh air, exercise and some “you” time can be the one of the most effective and powerful rehabilitation tools available. If you are an experienced runner, the free Nike Run Club app has released a powerful Mindfulness Running Pack that provides guided runs to help you focus on your breathing and mental health.

If you are new to exercise, chatting to your local accredited exercise physiologist is a great way to get started. They can provide evidence-based exercise programs to help combat your anxiety/depression and leave you feeling fit and healthy.


Psychologists can provide cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (ITP) which can assist the mother in the postnatal period.

Your GP

General Practitioner may prescribe medication to help reduce symptoms of depression.

Support networks

Find support in the people around you. Good examples include mothers groups, mums and bubs fitness classes, family and friends…The more, the merrier! Opening up about your situation can help you realise that you’re not alone.

Learn positive coping strategies

Do something to help you relax. For example, read a book or take a bath.


Access specialised information and support at PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia)

What now?

To start moving more, we recommend you consult your GP and get a referral to see an Exercise Physiologist. They understand the complexities of exercising with mental health conditions and can help you to get moving safely. Alternatively, click here to find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist near you.


Written by Kim Chappel, Accredited Exercise Physiologist.