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Perinatal Mood
Disorders 
Information

Down below you will find more information on various perinatal mood disorders including postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, and postpartum psychosis. Please make sure to speak with your medical provider if you are experiencing any of these symptoms and seek immediate help if you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. 

 

BABY BLUES

OVERVIEW

Baby blues are feelings of sadness that you may experience in the days that follow childbirth. Up to 4 in 5 new parents may experience the baby blues. The baby blues can last up to 2 weeks after birth and will usually go away on their own. If your feelings of sadness persist past 2 weeks, you should reach out to a medical professional to screen for possible postpartum depression.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms for the baby blues may include:​​

  • Isolating yourself

  • Anger, moodiness, crankiness, or anxiousness

  • Losing interest in activities or hobbies

  • Frustration or sadness

  • Feeling hopeless or overwhelmed

  • Trouble sleeping or making decisions

CAUSES

Hormone changes after childbirth are believed to be the cause of the baby blues. The sudden decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels can cause mood swings that may make mothers feel emotional.

RISK FACTORS

You may be more at risk for the baby blues if you felt depressed during a previous pregnancy or at any other time in your life.

DIAGNOSIS

A medical professional will be able to determine if your symptoms are that of the baby blues or postpartum depression by evaluating the time frame of your symptoms and severity of symptoms.

TREATMENT

The baby blues will usually go away on their own without treatment. Some things you can do to feel better may include:

  • Going outside for walks

  • Getting better sleep when you can

  • Getting support from family and friends

  • Taking time for yourself

  • Joining a support group 

  • Eating healthy foods

  • Exercise

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION

Always be honest with your medical provider about your feelings and emotions towards this new chapter in your life. Your medical provider will be able to help determine if you are experiencing the baby blues or postpartum depression. Be sure to contact your medical provider if your symptoms of the baby blues persist for more than two weeks or if you have thoughts of hurting yourself or your infant.

POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION

OVERVIEW

Postpartum depression (PPD) is characterized as feeling sad, hopeless, or empty for longer than 2 weeks after child birth. One in 9 new mothers may experience PPD. Postpartum depression is a serious mental illness that affects the brain and can lead to behavioral and physical health issues. PPD can interfere with your ability to bond with your baby and your day-to-day activities.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms for PPD may include:

  • Sadness or hopelessness

  • Feeling overwhelmed

  • Frequent crying

  • Not feeling connected to your baby

  • Little energy or motivation

  • Eating too little or too much

  • Sleeping too little or too much

  • Difficulty focusing

  • Feeling worthless or guilty

  • Losing interest in activities

  • Having thoughts of hurting yourself or baby 

CAUSES

It is believed that hormonal changes may trigger the onset of postpartum depression. The quick decline in estrogen and progesterone after childbirth are believed by researchers to lead to the symptoms of postpartum depression in some women. A decrease in thyroid hormones after childbirth can also produce symptoms of depression.

Aside from hormonal changes, lack of sleep, lifestyle changes, and stress can also contribute to PPD.

RISK FACTORS

Factors that increase your risk of developing postpartum depression include:

  • Personal or family history of depression or bipolar disorder

  • Not having family support

  • Pregnancy or birth complication

  • Relationship or financial issues

  • Being a young mother

  • Having alcoholism or using illegal drugs 

  • Having a baby with special needs

  • Difficult breastfeeding

  • Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy

DIAGNOSIS

Your doctor may complete the following to evaluate you for PPD:

  • Depression screening which may include filling out a questionnaire

  • Blood test to check for possible contributing thyroid issues

  • Other tests to rule out other causes

TREATMENT

Postpartum depression can be treated using a variety of methods such as:

  • Therapy: speaking with a therapist can help recognize intrusive thoughts

  • Antidepressants: antidepressants can help improve one’s mental state

  • Thyroid medication: thyroid medications may be used to help balance thyroid levels

  • IV treatment: Brexanolone is given over the course of 60 hours under the supervision of a doctor to relieve symptoms

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION

Always be honest with your medical provider about your feelings and emotions towards this new chapter in your life. Your medical provider will be able to help determine if you are experiencing the baby blues, postpartum depression, or something more severe. If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or your infant, make sure to get medical attention right away.

POSTPARTUM ANXIETY

OVERVIEW

Postpartum anxiety (PPA) is characterized as excessive worrying that comes after childbirth or adoption. PPA can cause a constant state of worry and nervousness. It is estimated that between 11% and 21% of mothers experience PPA after childbirth.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms for PPA may include: 

  • Constant or near-constant worry

  • Feelings of dread 

  • Difficulty sleeping even when baby is sleeping soundly

  • Racing thoughts

  • Fatigue

  • Heart palpitations

  • Hyperventilation

  • Sweating

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Shakiness or trembling

CAUSES

Unfortunately, the exact cause of postpartum anxiety isn’t fully known. Researchers believe PPA can be linked to hormonal changes, lack of sleep, stress, and other risk factors.

RISK FACTORS

Factors that increase your risk of developing postpartum anxiety include:

  • Personal or family history of depression or anxiety

  • Previous pregnancy loss

  • Having a baby with health conditions

  • History of eating disorders

  • Caring for multiples

  • Lack of family support

DIAGNOSIS

Although there isn’t a clear diagnostic screening tool for postpartum anxiety, your medical doctor might use an anxiety questionnaire to evaluate your symptoms.

TREATMENT

Treatment for postpartum anxiety may include lifestyle changes, speaking with a counselor, or medication. Your doctor will determine the best route for you depending on your symptoms, medical history, and whether or not you are breastfeeding.

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION

Always be honest with your medical provider about your feelings and emotions towards this new chapter in your life. Your medical provider will be able to help determine if you are experiencing the baby blues, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, or something more severe. If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or your infant, make sure to get medical attention right away.

POSTPARTUM OCD

OVERVIEW

Mothers may often experience anxiety after welcoming a new baby home. However, when thoughts and actions become obsessive, mothers might be experiencing postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder or postpartum OCD.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms for postpartum OCD may include:

  • Thoughts that affect your daily, normal functioning

  • Compulsions like repeatedly praying, checking on baby, asking for reassurance, or cleaning

  • Avoiding certain activities like carrying your baby down the stairs

  • Feeling overwhelmed by thoughts

  • Depression

  • Trouble sleeping 

  • Difficulty taking care of child

CAUSES

The exact cause of postpartum OCD remains unknown; however, it is believed to be due to hormonal and psychological changes that come with pregnancy and childbirth. Being a first-time mom can increase the chances of developing postpartum OCD as well.

RISK FACTORS

Factors that increase your risk of developing postpartum OCD include:

  • Personal or family history of anxiety or OCD

  • Being a first-time mother

DIAGNOSIS

Postpartum OCD is typically diagnosed by a medical professional evaluating your thoughts and feelings. You may be asked to use a rating scale to track your symptoms.

TREATMENT

Treatment for postpartum OCD may include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or antidepressants

  • Other medications

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION

Always be honest with your medical provider about your feelings and emotions towards this new chapter in your life. If you’re having thoughts that overwhelm you and affect your life as a parent, talk to your doctor. Seek medical attention right away or if you have thoughts of hurting yourself or your infant.

POSTPARTUM PSYCHOSIS

OVERVIEW

Postpartum psychosis is a perinatal mood disorder that occurs shortly after childbirth and causes mothers to lose touch with reality. It’s estimated that 1 to 2 of every 1,000 new mothers experience postpartum psychosis. Postpartum psychosis is not nearly as common as postpartum depression, but requires immediate medical attention.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms for postpartum psychosis may include:

  • Delusions or hallucinations

  • Agitation

  • Heightened energy 

  • Depression, anxiety, or confusion

  • Severe insomnia

  • Paranoia

  • Mood swings

  • Feeling disconnected from your baby

  • Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming your baby

CAUSES

The exact cause of postpartum psychosis remains unknown; however, it is believed that it can be caused hormonal changes after childbirth.

RISK FACTORS

Factors that increase your risk of developing postpartum psychosis include:

  • Personal or family history of bipolar disorder or psychosis

  • Unplanned pregnancy

  • Having mood swings during pregnancy

  • Stopping psychiatric medications during pregnancy

  • Being a first-time mother

DIAGNOSIS

A diagnosis of postpartum psychosis will typically occur after being evaluated by a medical professional, usually in a hospital where symptoms can be monitored.

TREATMENT

Treatment for postpartum psychosis may include:

  • Hospitalization

  • Antipsychotic medications

  • Antidepressants

  • Counseling

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION

Always be honest with your medical provider about your feelings and emotions towards this new chapter in your life. If you think you or your loved ones are experiencing delusions, paranoia, or other signs of postpartum psychosis, seek medical attention right away or if you have thoughts of hurting yourself or your infant.

TAKE A MENTAL HEALTH TEST

If you are unsure if you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder, an online screening test is a helpful resource to determine your next steps. Please make sure to share your results with your medical provider to get the appropriate help you need.

TALK TO SOMEONE

SUICIDE HOTLINE

If you or someone you love is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You can also chat with an online counselor 24/7 by visiting 988lifeline.org/chat.

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