Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

The most common mental health challenges that show up in pregnancy or postpartum are Depression and Anxiety. 1 in 5 women will struggle with one of these mood disorders. 

// Depression

Depression during and after pregnancy occur more often than most people realize. Depression during pregnancy is also called antepartum or prenatal depression, and depression after pregnancy is called postpartum depression.

 

Approximately 15% of women experience significant depression following childbirth. The percentages are even higher for women who are also dealing with poverty, and can be twice as high for teen parents. Ten percent of women experience depression in pregnancy. In fact, perinatal depression is the most common complication of childbirth.

 

// Symptoms

Symptoms can start anytime during pregnancy or the first year postpartum. They differ for everyone, and might include the following:

// Feelings of anger or irritability

// Lack of interest in the baby

// Appetite and sleep disturbance

// Crying and sadness

// Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness

// Loss of interest, joy or pleasure in things you used to enjoy

// Possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself

 

// Risk Factors

It is important to know the risk factors for antepartum and postpartum depression. Research shows that all of the things listed below put you at a higher risk for developing these illnesses. If you have any of these factors, you should discuss them with your medical provider so that you can plan ahead for care should you need it.

// A personal or family history of depression, anxiety, or postpartum depression

// Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD or PMS)

// Inadequate support in caring for the baby

// Financial stress

// Marital stress

// Complications in pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding

// A major recent life event: loss, house move, job loss

// Mothers of multiples

// Mothers whose infants are in Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU)

// Mothers who’ve gone through infertility treatments

// Women with a thyroid imbalance

// Women with any form of diabetes (type 1, type 2 or gestational)

// Anxiety

Approximately 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety. Sometimes they experience anxiety alone, and sometimes they experience it in addition to depression.

 

// Symptoms

The symptoms of anxiety during pregnancy or postpartum might include:

// Constant worry

// Feeling that something bad is going to happen

// Racing thoughts

// Disturbances of sleep and appetite

// Inability to sit still

// Physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea

 

// Risk Factors

Risk factors for perinatal anxiety and panic include a personal or family history of anxiety, previous perinatal depression or anxiety, or thyroid imbalance.

 

In addition to generalized anxiety, there are some specific forms of anxiety that you should know about. One is Postpartum Panic Disorder. This is a form of anxiety with which the sufferer feels very nervous and has recurring panic attacks. During a panic attack, she may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, claustrophobia, dizziness, heart palpitations, and numbness and tingling in the extremities. Panic attacks seem to go in waves, but it is important to know that they will pass and will not hurt you.

This information is copied directly from the Postpartum Support International website. A wonderful resource for Postpartum Mood Disorder education.

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