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Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

What are Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders?

Most women get the “baby blues” in the days after childbirth, but if depression or anxiety persists longer, is more severe or is interfering with family bonding, please seek professional help. Men and women can get PMADs, and they can appear any time in the first year after birth and following weaning from breastfeeding or a return of menstruation after childbirth. It comes in many forms:

  • Depression: Includes feelings of despair/hopelessness, crying, anger and irritability, sleep disturbances, loss of energy and interest, clumsiness, slowed speech, suicidal thoughts, feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy, and excessive worries.
  • Anxiety: Includes fear of being alone, fears about baby's health, agoraphobia, muscle tension, chest pain, shortness of breath, fear of dying, fear of going crazy, and anger.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Includes recurring, persistent and disturbing thoughts, ideas or images, engaging in ritual behaviors done to avoid harming baby, or to create protection for baby, being hypervigilant and unable to control thoughts, fears and images.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (usually occurs soon after birth): Includes feeling anxiety when exposed to situations similar to the trauma, sensations of "being in the trauma" now, nightmares and emotional numbing or detachment.
  • Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar Disorders are not technically classified as Postpartum Mood Disorders, but about half of all women who have Bipolar Disorder are first diagnosed postpartum.
  • Psychosis (rare, and requires immediate treatment, often including hospitalization and medication): Includes paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, irrational thoughts, impulsivity, lack of decision making abilities, severe insomnia and confusion.

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