Perinatal Mental Health Disorders
1 in 7 moms and 1 in 10 dads experience symptoms of Perinatal Mental Health Disorders (PMHDs). PMHDs don't discriminate against age, income level, race, or culture. Symptoms can appear any time during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth. Although the term "postpartum depression" is most often used, there are actually several forms of illness that one may experience, including:
Depression During Pregnancy and Postpartum
A woman with PPD might experience feelings of anger, sadness, irritability, guilt, lack of interest in the baby, changes in eating and sleeping habits, trouble concentrating, thoughts of hopelessness and sometimes even thoughts of harming the baby or herself. Learn more about PPD, including risk factors, symptoms and treatment options here.
Anxiety During Pregnancy and Postpartum
A woman with PPA may experience extreme worries and fears, often over the health and safety of the baby. Some women have panic attacks and might feel shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, a feeling of losing control, and numbness and tingling. Learn more about PPA, including risk factors, symptoms and treatment options here.
Pregnancy or Postpartum Obsessive Symptoms
Women with PPOCD can have repetitive, upsetting and unwanted thoughts or mental images (obsessions), and sometimes they need to do certain things over and over (compulsions) to reduce the anxiety caused by those thoughts. These moms find these thoughts very scary and unusual and are very unlikely to ever act on them. Learn more about PPOCD, including risk factors, symptoms and treatment options here.
Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
PPTSD is often caused by a traumatic or frightening childbirth or past trauma, and symptoms may include flashbacks of the trauma with feelings of anxiety and the need to avoid things related to that event. Learn more about PPTSD, including risk factors, symptoms and treatment options here.
Bipolar Mood Disorders
There are two phases of a bipolar mood disorder: the lows and the highs. The low time is clinically called depression, and the high is called mania or hypomania. Many women are diagnosed for the first time with bipolar depression or mania during pregnancy or postpartum. Bipolar mood disorder can appear as a severe depression; women need informed evaluation and follow-up on past and current mood changes and cycles to assess whether there is a bipolar dynamic. In Bipolar 2, the manic episode is less apparent; the highs and lows are not as extreme, and sometimes it is more apparent to friends and families than to the individual going through the phases. Learn more about bipolar mood disorders during pregnancy or postpartum here.
PPP sufferers sometimes see and hear voices or images that others can’t, called hallucinations. They may believe things that aren’t true and distrust those around them. They may also have periods of confusion and memory loss and seem manic. This severe condition is dangerous so it is important to seek help immediately. Learn more about PPP, including risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options here.
It is important to note that not only birth mothers but also fathers, adoptive parents, and spouses can experience these symptoms as well.
*Information taken from Postpartum Support International