May 22, 2017
Did you know that as many as 1 in 4 families will be affected by mood disorders during pregnancy and afterward? Many people are surprised to find out how common it is, and we want to shed a little bit of light on some of the most common myths associated with perinatal mood disorders, along with sharing some common symptoms, so that families can be prepared to recognize when they occur, and get the help they need!
While Postpartum Depression may be the most famous of the mood disorders associated with the postpartum period. However, anxiety, OCD, and even, rarely, psychosis, can also occur, and some have totally different symptoms than you might expect with depression! Knowing what the symptoms are can help you identify when something isn't right. The good news is that all of these mood disorders are treatable, and can get better with proper help.
Pregnancy and birth are associated with a lot of changes hormonally, which can cause an imbalance at any time. Some women may be more susceptible to mood disorders while pregnant, others don't experience anything until afterward, and some will feel off the whole way through. The name for this is PMAD: perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. We want expecting families to know that while yes, it can be normal to have some mood swings in pregnancy, anything severe should be checked out, because you can definitely have anxiety, OCD, and depression triggered by the pregnancy itself, not just afterward (see below for some common symptoms!)
Partners who haven't given birth can absolutely be affected by perinatal mood disorders. These can be triggered by the general stress around this major life change, and by lack of sleep, to name just a few things. As doulas, we want to make sure the whole family is supported. Sometimes partners can get lost in the shuffle as the focus is centered around the pregnant partner, and the new baby. We make sure that you and your partner are supported, and that any symptoms can be addressed.
Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders can affect anyone, even if you have never struggled with depression or anxiety before! This can catch you off-guard if you are not expecting it. It is helpful to be somewhat familiar with the symptoms so that it is not a total surprise, and so that you can get help in a timely manner.
As you can see, there are many different times and ways that Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, PMAD, can present for expecting families. Below, we count just some of the ways that families can be affected.
Also, it is important to know that many people will experience Postpartum Blues, which are normal, and will typically resolve on their own after 1-2 weeks. Normal blues are typically experienced as moments of sadness, overwhelm, worry, etc. rather than being an on-going and constant feeling that doesn't resolve shortly, or is totally pervasive. It can be tricky to distinguish between this normal dip on the roller coaster, and something that requires more help, though. If you are ever in doubt, reach out and get help! Support is available.
Please note: If you or your loved one is hearing or seeing things that are not there, is showing severe and rapid behavior changes, is talking about concrete plans for self-harm or harming the baby, or is having delusional, paranoid, or suspicious, please contact your provider right away and seek immediate treatment.
This list is not exhaustive, but we hope it helps you to see: there are many ways symptoms can manifest. We want you to know that this is common, you are not alone, and that what you are experiencing can be helped. This doesn't have to be your new normal. Contact your OB, midwife, or general practitioner to start the conversation about what is going on, and start a plan of care to get back to yourself again!
The doulas of Tender Beginnings serve the Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio region. If you need referrals to providers who can help, or information about local resources, please contact us! We would love to help. Our Postpartum Doulas are also a great addition to your over-all care plan, either to help prevent, or to help give you the time and space to heal from, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.