Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (postpartum emotions)
Becoming a mother is often a powerful and life-changing transition. Some mothers feel postpartum anxiety, postpartum depression, or other strong emotions after giving birth.
“Nobody would believe what an effort it is to what little I am able”
–Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper, 1892
Perinatal refers to the period before, during, or after birth. Perinatal means the period “all around” birth. It is used to refer to the period of time all throughout pregnancy as well as the baby’s first year.
How is this different than the “baby blues?”
Most new mothers – experts estimate about 80% — experience mood swings, crying and weepiness during the first 2-3 weeks after giving birth. Sometimes called “the baby blues”, this is a normal adjustment period and resolves without any medical assistance.
Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) affect between 10 – 20% of women. Symptoms can appear at any time during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth. Although many people only know the term “postpartum depression,” PMADs include several illnesses, each with their own cluster of symptoms and treatments. They include:
- Perinatal Depression (PPD), commonly referred to as “Postpartum Depression”
- Perinatal Anxiety (PPA)
- Pregnancy or Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (PPOCD)
- Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PPTSD)
- Bipolar Mood Disorders
- Postpartum Psychosis (PPP)
Symptoms of PMADs can include:
- Lack of interest in the baby or loss of interest, joy, or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
- Crying and sadness
- Scary thoughts
- Feelings of anger, irritability, guilt, shame, or hopelessness
- Possible thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
- Constant worry or racing thoughts
- Compulsively doing certain things over and over again to manage fears (ie: checking things many times)
- Flashbacks or intrusive re-experiencing of a past traumatic event
- Experiencing a mood that is more elevated than normal or rapid mood swings
- Paranoia and suspiciousness
- Delusions (strange beliefs) or Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
Infant loss and miscarriage can trigger symptoms of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders as well.
To learn more about PMADs you can visit:
All of these symptoms and many others could indicate that you are suffering from a Perinatal Mood or Anxiety Disorder.
Please know that you do not need to continue to suffer. With therapy and/or medication you can prevent a worsening of these symptoms and can fully recover.
We are here for you.