Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders
As mothers, our mental health is an unbelievably important stepping stone. When we are new moms, regardless of it is our first or our seventh, our mental health can change rapidly and at the drop of a hat.
1 in 5 women who are new moms will experience some form of PMD (Perinatal Mood Disorder). This can be Baby Blues, Postpartum Anxiety, Postpartum Depression and even Postpartum Psychosis. Even with so many women experiencing these, they often go unnoticed and untreated.
I firsthand have experienced PPA and PPD. I tried to manage both on my own without help. With my PPD, I had to be realistic and get assistance, for the benefit of myself, my children, and even my husband.
Whereas Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders are common, it is not normal to feel that way. There is so much more to motherhood than our own internal struggles. It is okay to get help and there is ZERO shame in doing so.
How do I know if I’m experiencing PMD?
With my daughter, I had this crippling fear of leaving her. I was afraid something horrible would happen to her. I was obsessing over if she was too hot if she was breathing, and making sure she wasn’t in a container for too long. I felt like people were trying to steal her or that they were going to have her taken away from me.
With my son, I had those anxieties but not as severe. What I had was this constant feeling of sadness. I was resentful, I was disconnected. I wanted to run away every time he would cry. I felt that I was failing my toddler. I felt that everyone would be happier without me. I couldn’t console a colic baby. I was hurting him by accidentally I getting dairy. I had mood swings and would have unrelenting anger or sadness.
These COULD be slightly normal thoughts. Mine were obsessive and debilitating. I could not handle the depression on my own. These are my own encounters.
Are you experiencing PMD symptoms?
Are you feeling sad or depressed?
Are you irritable or angry with those around you?
Are you struggling to bond with your baby?
Are you feeling anxiety or panic?
Are you having issues eating?
Are you having issues sleeping (more than just the baby)?
Are you having upsetting thoughts you can’t get out of your head?
Are you feeling out of control?
Are you feeling like you are losing your mind or going crazy?
Do you feel like you shouldn’t have become a mother?
Are you worried you might hurt yourself?
Are you worried you might hurt your baby/children?
*List provided by Postpartum Support International
I had 3 symptoms with my daughter and EVERY SINGLE ONE with my son. You don’t have to experience it all to be dealing with something! Just like every pregnancy and child is different, so is the manifestation of a mood disorder.
Many women will experience some mood changes after having a baby but up to 20% will experience significant to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety. If you are experiencing ANY of these and are in a place of suffering or feel like you might be going there, just know there is help and you do not have to feel like this. These symptoms can also appear anytime within 12 months of birth. Late onsets do not discount what you are experiencing.
When I had my daughter, I did not fit into the category of Postpartum Depression. I also didn’t feel like I fit into the category of Baby Blues. I did know something was wrong though. Aside from my calling to stay at home, I was experiencing debilitating anxiety and obsessive thoughts. Getting a sitter was excruciating. I’d stress the whole time I was out about if they were feeding her correctly, if they were feeding her food vs breastmilk, or if I would come home and she was gone. I couldn’t sleep because when she was sleeping I was making sure she was alive. ALL NIGHT LONG. I knew something was off but I didn’t know what. It turns out, I was experiencing Postpartum Anxiety.
Postpartum Depression is, in my opinion, the most commonly talked about Perinatal Mood Disorders. Which is why PPA was not on my radar for quite some time. I actually did not realize the extent of mood disorders until recently.
Types of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders
Common symptoms include: sadness, anger, irritability, guilt, inability to make decisions, difficulty focusing, eating and sleeping changes, difficulty bonding with baby, lack of interest in baby, and even thoughts of harm.
Common symptoms include: extreme worries and fears over the wellbeing of baby, panic attacks, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, and feeling out of control.
Common symptoms include: obsessive thoughts that can be alarming and upsetting, and even experience compulsive and repetitive behaviors to help lessen anxieties.
Common symptoms include: hallucinations (visual and audible), strong distrust towards others, periods of confusion, memory loss, manic emotions. It is important to seek help immediately if experiencing symptoms of PPP.
You can learn more about Perinatal Mood Disorders here.
Treatment for Perinatal Mood Disorders
There are many ways to cope with and handle Perinatal Mood Disorders. It is important to understand how important it is to nourish your mental health as a new mom. With my anxiety, I managed to cope with it naturally, though it was very difficult and I still struggled. I had a breaking point with my depression and I chose to medicate. I was not the mother my children needed, I was not the wife my husband deserved, and I had lost myself in suffering. It was as simple as calling my OB and getting a next day appointment to get medication.
Natural Coping (unmedicated)
Diet (clean eating, Whole30, etc.)
There is no shame in asking for medication or needing it either! I wish I had called my OB sooner so I didn’t experience the loss, the anger, the feeling of being out-of-control. You do not have to be experiencing manic emotions or even severe turmoil to get medicated. If you are feeling like you are off or having ups and downs, it is completely fine to get help for that.
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