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04th May 2016

Perfectionists Are More Likely To Suffer Post-Natal Depression

Trine Jensen-Burke

It is estimated that as many as one in five new mums suffer from post-natal depression, a number we know is also rising.

What causes it is is often a complex set of circumstances and triggers, and something scientists are still trying to uncover, but recently, a team of researchers in Australia could reveal that women who are perfectionists are at a higher risk of developing post-natal depression than other women.

The Perth-based team are now trialling a way to treat these women before they give birth, to reduce their risk of suffering from it, and this is what Dr Sarah Egan from Perth’s Curtin University, who has been researching perfectionism for years, had to say about the study:

“We know that perfectionism is related to all sorts of problems generally: anxiety, depression, eating disorders,” she explains, but also points out that there is nothing wrong with people striving for a higher standard. “The sort of perfectionism that might become a problem or might make you more likely to get anxious and depressed is when you’re really self-critical. You really beat yourself up when you make mistakes. You base your whole self-esteem on how well you’re going at meeting your standards.”

Egan thinks perfectionism is a real issue for pregnant women and mums today. As in; they might have expectations about life with baby and how it will play out that are not very realistic. “They might be expecting to keep the house as clean as it was before the baby came along, or be thinking that feeding- and sleep schedules will come naturally and easy, and when things don’t go to plan, they feel like they are failing.”

The thing is, though, that all of us mothers know, babies have a lil’ tendency to be pretty unpredictable.

“There’s so much about babies that you just can’t control, particularly in that period when you’re a new mum,” Egan agrees and adds that mums with established careers, who have children later in life, are often the ones to fall victims to a more perfectionist way of thinking.

“They’re probably used to being able to get things done and achieve deadlines. If you work hard enough, then you do well. But you can’t apply those standards to having a baby. No matter how hard you work, they’re just going to do what they’re going to do anyway. You might be doing a great job, but they just won’t sleep or they just won’t feed or whatever the issue is.”

What do YOU think, mamas? Would you consider yourself a perfectionist? Did you have expectations about life with baby that didn’t quite happen? Would YOU say this could be a trigger for post-natal depression? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @Herfamilydotie