WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PERINATAL MOOD AND ANXIETY DISORDERS
Depression during pregnancy, The Baby Blues, Postpartum Depression, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Postpartum Psychosis
Pregnancy is not necessarily PROTECTIVE against depression. 10% of women may have symptoms of depression or anxiety during their pregnancies. These symptoms are often overlooked because they get confused with some of the symptoms of pregnancy like anxiety, tearfulness, mood swings, sleeplessness. Don’t wait or try to figure it out on your own. Talk to your healthcare provider.
THE BABY BLUES
Is considered normal postpartum adjustment. The symptoms are mild and may include sleeplessness, tearfulness, mood swings and anxiety. These symptoms arise around the 3rd day postpartum and diminish by 2-3 weeks postpartum. They feel like the ups and downs that occur around the female menstrual cycle. Generally, no medical treatment is required. Good self-care that includes rest, nourishment and lots of support for the new mom goes a long way in helping her make this emotionally challenging transition from pregnancy to new motherhood.
Affects 1 out of every 8 women who give birth. Symptoms may include an inability to sleep, loss of appetite, feelings of inadequacy as a mom, feeling unable to cope, feeling afraid to be left alone to care for the baby, feeling like you’ve made a mistake having a baby, feeling emotionally disconnected, especially from your baby as though you’re just going through the motions. You may also experience confusion, and fogginess, feel as though it’s overwhelming to make any kind of decision. In severe cases, a woman might have thoughts of harming herself. It’s very important to talk with a healthcare provider you trust, like your obstetrician, primary care physician or even baby’s pediatrician.
Postpartum Depression IS TREATABLE!
Women with postpartum depression generally feel very very anxious more than they feel depressed. Anxiety is the most common presenting symptom of postpartum depression. 3-5% of new mothers are consumed by intruding thoughts and images about harm coming to their baby that are very distressing and may lead to compulsive behaviors that interfere with their capacity to care for their infants. They may also find themselves repeatedly checking, counting, or cleaning. 10% of new mothers are affected by intense panic that can even awaken you from a deep sleep and sometimes actually feel like a heart attack.
POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
Sometimes giving birth can be a reminder of other times in your life when you have felt helpless or powerless. For some women, depending on your birth experience, the act of giving birth can actually feel traumatic. You may experience flashbacks or nightmares or try to avoid anything, even the baby, that reminds you of your traumatic experience,
Is NOT severe postpartum depression. It is a separate condition. Although it is rare and affects only 1 or 2 women who give birth, it is serious and requires immediate medical attention. If you have a personal or family history of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depressive disorder with psychotic features, your risk for psychosis is higher. Postpartum Psychosis IS treatable and medication is most often indicated. Some of the symptoms of postpartum psychosis include hearing voices, seeing things that aren’t really there, believing things about your baby or yourself that are not true, feeling so energetic that you don’t feel the need to sleep. If you know your risks and are having any of these symptoms, it is critical that you tell your healthcare provider immediately so that you can receive proper treatment and stay safe.