While many women experience some mild mood change or “the blues” during or after the birth of a child, 1 in 7 women experience more significant symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Parents of every culture, age, income level, and race can get Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Symptoms can appear anytime during pregnancy and the first year after childbirth. There are effective and well-researched treatment options to help you recover. Although the term “postpartum depression” is often used, there are actually several overlapping illnesses.
Pregnancy or Postpartum Depression might include feelings of anger, irritability, guilt, lack of interest in the baby, changes in eating and sleeping, trouble concentrating, thoughts of hopelessness, and sometimes thoughts of harming the baby or yourself.
Pregnancy or Postpartum Anxiety might include extreme worries and fears, including the health and safety of the baby. Some women have panic attacks and might feel shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, feeling of losing control, numbness, and tingling.
Pregnancy or Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder might include repetitive, upsetting and unwanted thoughts or mental images, and sometimes the need to do certain things over and over to reduce anxiety caused by those thoughts. These moms find these thoughts very scary and unusual and are very unlikely to every act on them.
Postpartum Stress Disorder is often caused by a traumatic or frightening childbirth. Symptoms might include flashbacks of the trauma with feelings of anxiety and the need to avoid things related to that event.
Postpartum Psychosis might include seeing or hearing voices or images others can’t, feeling very energetic and unable to sleep, believing things that are not true and distrusting those around you. This rare illness can be dangerous so it is important to seek help immediately.
How Are You Feeling Now?
While many women experience some mild mood change or “the blues” during or after the birth of a child, 1 in 7 women experience more significant symptoms of depression or anxiety. One in ten dads become depressed during the first year.
- Are you feeling sad or depressed?
- Is it difficult for you to enjoy yourself?
- Do you feel more irritable or tense?
- Do you feel anxious or panicky?
- Are you having difficulty bonding with your baby?
- Do you feel as if you are “out of control” or “going crazy”?
- Are you worried that you might hurt your baby or yourself?
- Do you worry that something is wrong but don’t know how to help?
- Do you think that your partner or spouse is having problems coping?
- Are you worried that it may never get better?
Any parent can suffer from pregnancy or postpartum mood or anxiety disorders. However, with informed care you can prevent a worsening of symptoms and can fully recover. It is essential to recognize symptoms and reach out as soon as possible so that you can get the help you need and deserve.
Things You Can Do
Being a good parent includes taking care of yourself. If you take care of yourself, you will be able to take better care of your baby and your family. Bloom can help you in this important role.
- Talk to a counselor or healthcare provider who has training in perinatal mood and anxiety problems.
- Learn as much as you can about pregnancy and postpartum depression and anxiety.
- Get support from family and friends. Ask for help when you need it.
- Keep active by walking, stretching or whatever form of exercise helps you feel better.
- Get enough rest and time for yourself.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Don’t give up! It may take more than one try to get the right help you need.
You Are Not Alone
The Bloom Perinatal Support Network offers support at no charge for women who are at risk of or are experiencing distress such as isolation, depression, anxiety, fearful thoughts, insomnia, trauma, and other difficulties during pregnancy or postpartum.
Support Network Meetings
Meetings are open to anyone affected by or know someone affected by perinatal mood and anxiety. Babies under age one are welcome to come with parents.
2nd Thursday of each month
Pocatello Women’s Health Clinic
Patty Ackerman, CNM, MSN