What is perinatal mental health and PMAD? It is the diagnosis and treatment of depression and anxiety disorders that occur to women during pregnancy and up to one year after the birth of their child.  Pregnancy, child birth, and transition to becoming a parent are all major transitions that women go through and every single person deals with it in their own unique way while at the same time demonstrating universal commonalities.  Uncertainties and fears of becoming  a parent, hormonal changes during pregnancy and after, as well as life circumstances can all contribute to conditions that may need professional help.  I would like to explain the distinction between postpartum depression and postpartum blues, with the latter occurring much more commonly.  Postpartum depression occurs in one in ten women, while the baby blues symptoms are reported by as much as 8 out of 10 women and fade rather quickly and with proper rest, nutrition and support from family, friends and other mothers.  Severe postpartum depression is a rare illness which occurs to 1 in 1,000 women, and may include irrational statements, decreasing hygene management, and avoidance of the baby.

The following list of signs and symptoms are presented as a guide, while professional consultation is recommended:

 

  • Deep Sadness
  • Crying Spells
  • Hopelessness
  • Excessive Worrying
  • Intense Irritability or Anger
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Overwhelming Fatigue
  • Loss of Interest in Sex
  • Lack of Joy in Life
  • Feelings of Shame, Guilt or Inadequacy
  • Severe Mood Swings
  • Withdrawal from Family and Friends
  • Confusion or Disorientation
  • Hallucinations and Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Difficulty Bonding with the Baby
  • Thoughts of Harming Yourself or the Baby
  • Attempts to Harm Yourself or the Baby

If you are concerned that you or a loved one is experiencing some or most of these issues, please get help as soon as possible.  If it is a life threatening emergency, of course call 911.

Men or partners of the birthing mother, also suffer from perinatal/postpartum depression and anxiety and often times suffer alone.  A whopping 25-30% of new dads experience depression and/or anxiety, especially when reality sets in, sleepless nights, new chaotic routines, fights with spouse and fears/concerns about their responsibilities of being a parent get the best of you. Here is a resource that has more information: http://www.postpartummen.com/index.html