1 in 5 pregnant and new mothers are diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder.

1 in 5 pregnant and new mothers are diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder.

1 in 4 mothers with depression have thoughts of harming herself.

 

1 in 10 new fathers are diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder

 

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in postpartum women. 

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs)

What is the perinatal period?

Etymologically, “peri” is a Greek prefix meaning “near” or “around”  and “natal” comes from the Latin word “natus” which means “made” and then “born.” Broadly “perinatal” refers to the period of time in a women’s life surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. While there is some ambiguity, the perinatal period generally encompasses pregnancy and the first year after childbirth.

 

What are mood and anxiety disorders?

 

Mood and anxiety disorders are two mental health classes that professionals use to broadly describe depressive and bipolar disorders (mood), and worry/fear-related disorders (anxiety). Occasional times of sadness and worry are totally normal. Mood and anxiety disorders are more intense, tend to not go away on their own, and get in the way of daily life.

Mood and anxiety disorders tend to co-occur, which is why we talk about them together. They are also extremely common (up to 30% of people will experience a mood or anxiety disorder in their lifetime) and highly treatable with psychotherapy and/or medication.  

 

While pregnancy and new motherhood are often romanticized as joyful and exciting, the challenges inherent in childbearing and child-rearing can lead to significant mental health consequences—most commonly, mood and anxiety disorders.  

 

In the US, up to 20% of women are diagnosed with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (PMAD). The impact of PMADs reaches far beyond the expecting or new mother—to fathers, partners, grandparents, siblings, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

 

Because of the wide scope of PMADs, it is important for all of us to understand and identify their signs and symptoms, and to know how and where to turn for help.

What does a PMAD look like?

PMADs can present in a variety of ways and must be diagnosed by health care professionals. Some common symptoms include:

 

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed

  • Crying more often than usual or for no apparent reason

  • Worrying or feeling overly anxious

  • Feeling moody, irritable

  • Feeling keyed up, on edge, or restless

  • Oversleeping, or being unable to sleep even when the baby is asleep

  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions

  • Experiencing anger or rage for no apparent reason

  • Having frequent conflicts with a partner

  • Losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyable

  • Suffering from physical aches and pains, including frequent headaches, stomach problems, or muscle pain

  • Unexplained weight gain/loss or appetite increase/decrease

  • Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family

  • Having trouble bonding or forming an emotional attachment with the baby

  • Persistently doubting the ability to care for the baby

  • Thinking about harming oneself or the baby.

"I think, I or someone I care about, may be struggling with a PMADs… What can I do?"

You are in the right place! Please see our pages “for mothers”, “for fathers”, “for loved ones”, for employers” for more information. For peer support, and more information and resources, please call or text our SupportLine: 415-326-3623, or email us at info@postpartumsc.org.

WORRIED ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL? 

Wondering where to turn for help? Doing a self-test for depression, anxiety, OCD can help you find out.

IS YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM STRONG?

Practical and emotional support are important in protecting against perinatal mental health disorders. Take this survey to see how your social support system measures up.

If you are having suicidal thoughts or are concerned about someone else who may be suicidal, please call: 855-587-6373

National Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK [8255]

For grief support call 415-499-1195.

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