Many mothers experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).
But how do you know if you are more likely to experience it and what can
We will review some risk factors so you can be proactive with your mental
20% of women experience PMADs! Remember that this is
more common than many medical issues that are tested for during and after
pregnancy. PMADs include postpartum depression, postpartum
anxiety, Panic disorder, Postpartum OCD, Bipolar disorder, PTSD, and
This is not something that you caused or a reason for shame or guilt!
TRUE! Left untreated PMADs can affect the entire family,
including on cognitive and emotional development of your baby. It can also
lead to marital discord and impaired social functioning.
That is why it is so important to recognize and seek help if you have
symptoms of PMADs.
Just as important as treatment when an issue arises is prevention!
The first step is evaluating what are your risk factors.
All of the above can increase the chance to experience a PMAD.
Here are some known risk factors:
Personal history of depression or anxiety or mood disorder
Family history of mood disorder
History of physical or sexual abuse
Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
Current stressful life events
Pregnancy complications (e.g., gestational diabetes, preterm delivery
or pregnancy loss).
Relationship difficulty with partner or family
Lack of social support
Also, if you are experiencing “postpartum blues” you may be at
increased risk of PMADs.
It is important to be aware if you have a higher chance based on your risk
factors because you CAN take steps to try to prevent this.
True! See you have already taken steps to reduce your
Women and partners who are unaware of PMADs are left blind sighted when they
experience this and can delay seeking support and help.
Knowing your risk factors for PMAD and how common this issue can help
remove the stigma if you experience any symptoms and seek treatment sooner.
Women who are aware of their risk factors are more likely to take
measures to be more proactive. Don’t forget, your partner or
family member is also an important part of this dialogue.
All of the above.
Studies have shown that sleep, physical activity, hydration and
nutrition can all impact your mood. Social support has also been shown to
help mitigate postpartum depression/anxiety.
Sleep: Nap when the baby naps.
Enlist nighttime help if need for diaper changes, burps in between nursing.
Activity: Okay you don’t have to
run a marathon or hit the gym. Just. Move. Your. Body. Initially your
walking will be inside round the house but going outside for a 10-15 minute
walk around when you are able to can help tremendously. Now don’t put
yourself on a strict walking schedule…remember babies are unpredictable so
it is important to stay flexible!
Hydration: Just like being
“hangry”, your mood is affected by your hydration (dehydration can affect
the dopamine and serotonin balances in the brain.) Low water intake can
also contribute to decreased energy and clarity of thought. Postpartum and
especially if you are nursing you will need to increase your H20 intake! So
gulp down that H20!
Nutrition: Eating nutrient rich
foods with protein, complex carbohydrates and foods rich in omega fatty
acids, B vitamins and selenium can help keep you well.
Social Support: Friends and family
can be helpful. However, peer groups of other moms going through your
journey can be very effective.
TRUE! The USPSTF (US preventive services task force) found
convincing evidence that counseling interventions, such as cognitive
behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, are effective in preventing
perinatal depression in women with risk factors.
Other types of counseling interventions could be effective but not yet
Type of services include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy - Helps you to
identify and explore the ways your emotions and thoughts can
affect your actions. In doing so you can learn to reframe your
thoughts in a more positive and helpful way.
Interpersonal therapy - Designed to help
people address current concerns and improve interpersonal
Mindfulness therapy - Combination of cognitive
therapy, meditation, and the cultivation of a present-oriented
Psychoanalysis - A deep, individualized form
of talk therapy delving into unconscious thoughts, feelings,
desires, and memories.
FALSE. SSRI medications are used to treat depression and
anxiety before, during and after pregnancy. Studies show that
taking SSRI medication after delivery may prevent postpartum
depression/anxiety for women who have experienced this in prior
We don’t know yet if this may prevent postpartum depression/ anxiety in
other groups of mothers (especially those with a history of depression
prior to pregnancy). If you experienced this in your past pregnancy, talk
to your healthcare provider if this would work for you.
Even if you enlist every strategy above to prevent PMAD - the fact
is you STILL could be affected. That goes for any medical issues.
Even if we eat right and exercise some of us still end up getting diabetes.
This does not mean you are a failure or you didn’t do enough! You are still
ahead of the game by being aware and getting the care you need early!
PMADs are a common medical issue for postpartum women. Without treatment it
can have a long-lasting impact on families. Don’t let this disease steal
your time from you!
Know if you are more at risk!
Be aware of your mental health!
MaternalWell specialists in postpartum mental health are available through
secure telehealth consultation to support you.