Postpartum depression and PMADs


What are perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs)?

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:

  • feeling sad or down most of the time
  • crying for unknown reasons
  • unusual irritability
  • inability to sleep when given the opportunity
  • over or under eating 
  • feeling numb
  • hopelessness, feeling that your baby may be better off without you
  • feeling anxious or worried for no reason
  • having frightening, invasive thoughts that feel uncontrollable
  • hearing voices
  • feeling worthless, doubting your ability to parent

Postpartum Depression vs. "The Baby Blues"

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.  

You are not alone!

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!

What can therapy do for me?

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:

  • gain a greater understanding of your experience
  • provides you with support and validation
  • reduces shame
  • teaches you skills to cope with overwhelming and uncomfortable thoughts and feelings
  • help to develop a treatment plan that is right for you
  • coordinate care with providers and supportive people in your life 

PMADs affect the whole family

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.  

You have the power to take control of your life

The first step is asking for help.  Contact me today to see if we are a good fit.  You deserve to be well.

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