Understanding Perinatal Mental Health

WHAT ARE PERINATAL MOOD AND ANXIETY DISORDERS?

For new parents, some emotional and mental tension is to be expected while adjusting to the role. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of parents will experience the “baby blues.” The baby blues are a result of hormonal shifts taking place after giving birth, compounded with other stressors such as sleep deprivation, postpartum recovery, and shifts in responsibilities and roles. These symptoms generally fade within the first two to three weeks following birth. 

Around ten percent of new parents, however, experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) which interfere with their ability to function, parent, and live life fully. PMADs can take the form of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and psychosis — among others. PMADs are the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth.

The risk factors for PMADs include:

  • Family or personal history of mental health struggles
  • Financial strain
  • Birth trauma
  • Previous perinatal losses
  • Experiences with the NICU
  • Struggles with feeding your baby
  • Lack of social support
  • Trauma histories, including past neglect or violence

TYPES OF PERINATAL MENTAL HEALTH STRUGGLES AND THEIR SYMPTOMS

“PMADs” is an umbrella term for a range of mental health conditions that arise during the perinatal period. You may be struggling with a PMAD if you’re experiencing the following symptoms as a new parent.

Perinatal Depression Symptoms

  • Low mood, sadness, tearfulness
  • Loss of interest in experiences you previously enjoyed
  • Agitation, irritability, anxiety
  • Lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, hopelessness
  • Thoughts of harming your baby or yourself

Perinatal Anxiety Symptoms

  • Constant worry
  • Feeling that something bad is going to happen
  • Feeling like you can’t turn your brain off
  • Disturbances of sleep
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dizziness, heart palpitations, nausea.

Perinatal OCD Symptoms

  • Low mood, sadness, tearfulness
  • Loss of interest in experiences you previously enjoyed
  • Agitation, irritability, anxiety
  • Lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, hopelessness
  • Thoughts of harming your baby or yourself

Perinatal Psychosis Symptoms

  • Delusions or strange beliefs that feel real
  • Hallucinations 
  • Feeling confused
  • Feeling disconnected from reality
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Inability to sleep
  • Paranoia and suspiciousness
  • Difficulty communicating

A Place to Grow

For more information about Thrive Wellness, please reach out. We’ll connect you with the care you need.