PERINATAL MENTAL HEALTH

What is a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder?

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders  (PMAD, or PMD) refer to a group of disorders that includes depression, anxiety, panic, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychosis, that occur during pregnancy or the postpartum period (during the first year after birth). 


We often hear about postpartum depression, however, postpartum anxiety is more common among women.  


Pregnancy is not always what people expect.  Some women and/or their partners (yes -- men too!) find themselves feeling isolated, distressed, overwhelmed, and uncertain about their relationship or their sense of self.  


Prevalence: 

1 in 5 women will experience anxiety or depression during pregnancy or postpartum.


PMD can also occur in fathers.

Risk Factors

  • Personal and/or family history of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or other mental illness
  • Untreated postpartum depression during or following previous pregnancies
  • Significant mood changes around the menstrual cycle
  • Depression during the current pregnancy, which is the most significant predictor of postpartum depression
  • Previous or current pregnancy loss
  • Unexpected difficulties during labor and delivery
  • History of trauma, including physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Current stresses related to finances, legal concerns, immigration, and/or interpersonal relationships

Symptoms

You may experience some of the following:


· Feeling sad, down, or hopeless

· Mood swings

· Feeling overwhelmed

· Feeling guilty or worthless

· Little interest or pleasure in things

· Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much

· Feeling tired or low energy

· Difficulty concentrating

· Feeling bad about yourself

· Irritability or anger

· Panic

· Felling numb or empty

· Avoiding people or the baby

· Crying for no apparent reason

· Negative thoughts

· Feeling a need to constantly check on the baby

· Hallucinations

· Thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby 

(Perinatal Mental Health in St. Catharines)

(Postpartum depression in St. Catharines)

The Mommy Wars

Maternal mental health is impacted by the ongoing mommy wars.  Women feel judged by their choices, especially when it comes to delivery plans, sleep, feeding, and how to nurture their baby.


The issue is compounded by an unrealistic view of pregnancy/life with a baby.  On social media, people share family photos that show an idealistic family, rather than the daily struggles of parenting.  This also contributes to the stigma and shame mothers feel as they experience any struggling.


A common question people ask new moms is whether their baby is sleeping through the night. Of course newborns are not sleeping through the night. They are waking every 1-2 hours, as they are physiologically supposed to. When people ask questions like this, it leaves new parents to wonder if their baby is "normal," or start to feel like something may be wrong with their baby.  Part of counselling will be to ensure that new parents have accurate information about what to expect.