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PERINATAL MOOD DISORDERS

What are Perinatal Mood Disorders?

 

Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders, or PMADs are the mental health conditions that can develop during pregnancy and within the year after delivery. They differ from the “Baby Blues” (mild depressive symptoms and anxiety) which are commonly experienced and remit after 2-3 weeks postpartum. It's perfectly normal for parents to feel anxious or out of sorts due to child birth. However, PMADs are not fleeting. These mental health illnesses can have negative affects on your health and well being. 

What are the Types of Perinatal Mood Disorders?

 

The primary areas of difficulty experienced are: Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and Psychosis. Please read the definitions below and click on the links to learn more about each disorder.

Perinatal Depression

Perinatal Depression is the onset of depressive symptoms that can begin during or after pregnancy through the first year of birth.

Perinatal Anxiety

Perinatal Anxiety typically manifests as excessive worry about the health and well being of the infant, one's abilities as a mother, and general distress related to life circumstances.

Bipolar Disorders

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum Psychosis is a compromised mental state in which mothers lose connection with reality. It is associated with symptoms of auditory and visual hallucinations, delusions, and increased thoughts of harming oneself or their child. 

Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Postpartum OCD is a condition in which one becomes inundated with intrusive, unwanted thoughts often accompanied by feeling compelled to engage in behaviors to ward off these thoughts or to avoid a feared outcome. 

 

 

What Causes Perinatal Mood Disorders?

PMADs can be caused by a multitude of physiological, psychological, or circumstantial factors:

  • Genetic Predisposition

  • Hormonal Fluctuations

  • Lack of Support

  • Perfectionism

  • Sleep Disruption

  • Poor Health or Nutrition

  • Interpersonal or Cultural Stress

 

PMADs can also occur well after child birth. Common triggers for late onset PMADs include: 

  • Rapid Weaning

  • Hormonal Birth Control

  • Return to Work

  • Loss and Grief

  • Illness or Hospitalization

Are Perinatal Mood Disorders Preventable?

PMADs may be unavoidable at times. While research into methods of PMAD prevention is still ongoing, there have been some identified steps women can take to better avoid and manage mental health:

  • Get Informed - Being able to recognize and address PMAD triggers and symptoms is the first line of defense in order to maintain your mental health.

  • Stress Management - Pregnancy and parenthood can be very difficult experiences. Adopt practices and techniques like controlled breathing, meditation, and mental health breaks in order to maintain healthy levels of stress. 

  • Physical Fitness - It is well documented that physical activity is beneficial to your body as well as your mind. Staying physically fit is a great way to also maintain your mental health, just be mindful of your limitations due to the changes in your body and be careful not to over exert yourself.

  • Establish a Strong Support Network - The perinatal period is a time to lean in and on your partner, family, and close friends. Having a dedicated support group will also make you feel more confident about your ability to manage your new responsibilities as a parent.

  • See a Mental Health Specialist - Get professional help. A trained and licensed mental healthcare professional has the experience and tools necessary to guide you through this tough period and get you on the road to recovery. If you or a loved one are experiencing PMADs or any related mental health issue, please contact our office or a mental health professional near you.