First, let's start off by defining 'perinatal.' Perinatal is the time between conception and the first year after giving birth. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are mental health conditions that impact your everyday life, making it difficult or nearly impossible to function and find joy in life.
For some women, symptoms start during pregnancy, while others do not experience symptoms until after giving birth. Although symptoms vary for each woman, here are some of the things you may notice:
Many well intentioned people may have told you that "this is normal, it's just the baby blues." However, the "baby blues" is a small window of time (usually starting 3-4 days after delivery until about week two or three). During this time there are are significant hormonal shifts that may leave you feeling more weepy, or down. "Baby Blues" are more mild, like how you may feel before a period.
Postpartum depression is more intense and impairs your ability to feel like you are able to function or be present in your life. Postpartum does not go away on its own and requires specialized treatment. Without intervention, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders get worse, not better. Please know this is very treatable.
Each year 800,000-1,000,00 American women are affected by Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders during pregnancy and within the postpartum year. That's 10-15% of moms who give birth each year in America! Suicide is the leading cause of death for women in the first year after giving birth. The good news is: THIS IS TREATABLE, THERE IS HELP, AND YOU CAN FEEL BETTER!
For many women, a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (PMAD) may be the first time they have ever experienced a mental health concern. Psychotherapy (or talk therapy) is a first line defense in the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. Having a therapist who understands the treatment of PMADs is invaluable. Utilizing a therapist specializing in PMADs allows for specific treatment that targets the specific symptoms you are experiencing. Some of the things you can expect from therapy:
Many women don't speak up and ask for help because they feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell people what is going on. PMADs affect men too. About 4% of men experience similar symptoms after the birth of a baby as well. Bringing a new baby into the world is one of the biggest transitions you will ever experience. PMADs affect the entire family: moms, dads, infants, siblings. Relationships can suffer and the family is impacted. PMADs are treatable and will benefit you and your family as well.
The first step is asking for help. Contact me today to see if we are a good fit. You deserve to be well.
Jami Davis, MSW, LCSW CA License # LCSW81127