Postpartum got me feelin’ some kinda way: 5 common perinatal mood and anxiety disorders

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

If you feel “off” after having a baby, you are not alone. With the amount of hormonal, emotional, physical, and life changes that occur with birth, it’s easy for the mental health of a parent with a new baby to be negatively affected.

These negative impacts are often grouped into different types of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, often called PMADs. In this post, I’ll explain the signs, prevalence, and resources for five PMADs. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed here, or if you are concerned about your health or the health of someone you love for another reason, I encourage you to contact your medical care provider right away.

***

Baby Blues

Are you feeling

  • sad,
  • overwhelmed,
  • irritable,
  • moody,
  • exhausted, and/or
  • indecisive?

If your baby was born in the last two days to two weeks, you might be experiencing the baby blues. This is a PMAD that results from the all-over-the-place shifting of hormones that occur due to birth, and it usually goes away in about two weeks as your hormones stabilize. About 80% of moms experience the baby blues. If these symptoms last longer than two weeks or if they are severe, contact your provider.

***

Postpartum Depression

Are you feeling 

  • depressed,
  • scared,
  • ashamed,
  • guilty,
  • moody,
  • exhausted,
  • uninterested in baby,
  • disconnected from baby,
  • unable to sleep or to stop sleeping, and/or
  • unable to eat or stop eating?

You might be experiencing postpartum depression. Postpartum depression lasts longer than two weeks can can occur even up to a year after your baby’s birth, and 15% of moms experience it. Contact your provider about ways to treat postpartum depression.

***

Postpartum Anxiety

Are you feeling

  • constantly worried,
  • plagued by racing thoughts,
  • restless, and/or
  • physically ill or uncomfortable?

You might be experiencing postpartum anxiety. 10% of moms do. Talk to your care provider about ways to handle anxiety safely and helpfully.

***

Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 

Are you feeling

  • impulsive,
  • stuck in repetition,
  • worried all the time,
  • restless,
  • horrified,
  • afraid,
  • hypervigilant,
  • unable to sleep or stop sleeping, and/or
  • unable to stop imagining horrible scenarios?  

These are symptoms of postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder. Up to 5% of women experience this. For more information, check out these resources and talk to your care provider.

***

Postpartum Psychosis

Are you feeling

  • paranoid,
  • hopeless,
  • unable to sleep
  • deluded by reality,
  • hallucinatory – like what you’re seeing or hearing isn’t happening,
  • suspicious,
  • restless,
  • moody, and/or
  • unable to communicate ?

You might be experiencing postpartum psychosis, a rare and severe form of postpartum depression. It usually starts quite suddenly at some point within two weeks of birth. Postpartum psychosis affects .1-.2% of moms and can be very dangerous. Contact your care provider or 911 immediately if you think you or a loved one might be experiencing postpartum psychosis.

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