Perinatal Mood Disorder
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What is Perinatal Mood Disorder?
Perinatal mood disorder impacts women when they are pregnant and after pregnancy. A wide range of mental health conditions occur during the period of pregnancy and childbirth and these are called perinatal mood disorders. Perinatal depression combines depression before the baby is born called prenatal depression to the depression occurring after delivery which is called postpartum depression. Mothers may experience extreme fatigue, sadness, anxiety, and ruminating thoughts before and after their baby is born which can have a significant impact on their mental wellbeing.
Perinatal mood disorder is very different from the “baby blues” which occurs shortly after delivery and usually symbolizes a change in hormonal levels and also the continued demands of caring for a baby which is exhausting! Perinatal mental health is important as it's seen as relatively common for mothers to go through this stage but if it persists, it is important to receive professional help from a licensed mental health professional.
The Impact on Pregnancy
The impact of perinatal mood disorder on pregnancy include delayed prenatal growth, higher rates of delivering a premature baby and low birth weight. The mother may also develop certain mental health conditions including depression and anxiety. Prenatal depression is often one of the significant risk factors for a diagnosis of postpartum depression which is why it is very important to reach out for support.
How Long Does It Last?
Perinatal mood disorders are conditions that occur during pregnancy or up to one year following the birth of a child. The length of the mood disorder varies from individual to individual depending upon support and treatment available.
Dealing with Anxiety and Depression
Coping with anxiety and depression takes time and patience especially during the
The Emotional and Physical Symptoms
The onset of symptoms may be sudden or gradual but should never be ignored if they have lasted for more than 14 days.
Symptoms vary from individual to individual but may include:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, or overwhelmed
- Feeling anxious or on edge
- Regretting your decision to have a baby
- Difficulty sleeping
- Fears of leaving the house or being alone
- Unexplained anger
- Fears of harming oneself or the baby
- Relentless worries
- Self-doubt and future concerns
- An inability to cope with certain feelings and emotions
Causes, Consequences, and Treatment
Perinatal mood disorders can impact any mother irrespective of race, culture, background, income or education. It is not due to anything the mother has caused and does not have a single cause but it may be linked to the parent’s genetic background and also environmental influences and also physical and emotional factors of having a baby. Women are also at a greater risk of developing perinatal mood disorders if they experienced it during a previous pregnancy. The consequences can be severe for an expectant or new mother and their families including their baby. It may mean an individual may struggle to bond with their newborn child causing emotional difficulties for both mother and child. Certain causes may include:
- A family history of mental health conditions
- Substance abuse
- Previous mental health conditions
- Poor maternal health
Postpartum psychosis is a very significant mental health condition that is classified as a very severe mental health condition after the birth of a baby. Most women will experience a psychotic episode or breakdown causing difficulties in looking after themselves and their child. Symptoms can include:
- Delusions - thoughts of beliefs that are unlikely to be true
- Manic or low moods
- Loss of inhibitions
- Panic attacks
Postpartum psychosis is a very severe mental health issue and a mental professional should be consulted as soon as possible as it significantly impacts the mental health of new moms. Perinatal mood disorders impact the entire family including men and new dads. If you are struggling with your mood after having a baby please reach out for support through treatment groups either online or offline.
However, treatment is possible and the good news is that the symptoms with treatment can diminish over time with effective treatment such as therapy. A psychotherapist can help you overcome perinatal mood disorders and help you to develop coping skills to move forward in the recovery process. Therapy may include cognitive behavioral therapy to work on the underlying causes and thoughts impacting your daily functioning to help you better cope.
How to Get Help
Maternal mental health is very important to feeling better and to also prevent the onset of further symptoms during life transitions such as pregnancy and childbirth. During the postpartum period, you may feel uncertain and struggle to visualize a bright future but with the right support and counseling, it is possible. You may decide to reach out to your local medical professional including your physician, pediatrician, or gynecologist. You may also reach out to 7 Cups which can provide you on-demand support at your fingertips from the comfort of your own home around yours and your baby’s schedule. At 7 Cups, we also provide on-demand support groups in our caring community to help support you and your family.