Did you know that up to 1 in 5 moms will experience a perinatal mental health illness?
1 in 5.
Your mental health matters, mama. It matters immensely.
With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to take the time to focus on maternal mental health in particular (also known as perinatal mood and anxiety disorders or PMAD). This refers to mental illnesses or disorders that occur anytime during pregnancy through the first year postpartum.
It’s crucial that we as mothers are informed about this topic so we can stay vigilant for ourselves and for the women in our mom circles. Chances are, you or one of your mama friends will battle with one of these, and the first step in this battle is understanding all the forms in which mental illness can show up.
So let’s break down some terms and definitions.
Common short-term mood dip caused by the monumental transition into motherhood. Hormones, lack of sleep, and isolation contribute. Moms may experience bouts of overwhelm, irritability, or anxious thoughts. Resolves within 1-2 weeks after giving birth.
Feelings of depression continue for more than 2-3 weeks and diminish functionality. Marked by severe mood swings, feelings of extreme sadness, hopelessness or despair, difficulty bonding with baby, excessive crying, panic attacks, withdrawal, fatigue. May experience suicidal thoughts.
Constant worry, impending doom, disrupted sleep, racing thoughts, as well as physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, dizziness, nausea,
Two specific types of anxiety disorders include panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Perinatal/Postpartum Panic Disorder: “characterized by symptoms of intense fear and worry that prevent the person from functioning. These anxious thoughts cause physical responses in the form of panic attacks. Panic attacks may happen frequently or sporadically. There are different triggers that cause panic attacks to happen, but they center on thoughts and fears regarding the health or well-being of the baby,” according to www.mamamend.com
- Perinatal/Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: characterized by distressing recurrent and intrusive thoughts relating to the well-being of the baby. A compulsion follows, which is a mental or physical “ritual” to combat the anxiety brought on by the obsession, and the obsession-compulsion loop takes over.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder:
Stress response brought on by a traumatic delivery or postpartum period. It may manifest as unwanted flashbacks, panic attacks, feeling detached, sleep disruptions, and exaggerated startle response.
The most extreme and rare form of maternal mental illness, marked by hallucinations, delusions, manic behavior, disorientation, violent thoughts involving the baby, suicidal thoughts, rapidly changing moods. PP Psychosis is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate medical intervention.
PMADs are noted to be the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth and can exhibit differently in each affected mother. Early recognition and treatment are vital for confronting these issues before they become bigger problems with long-lasting implications. The good news? They are treatable with professional help.
If you think you might need help addressing any mental changes you're experiencing, reach out right now to your OB/Gyn or another care provider and they can equip you with next steps. Don't wait until your next scheduled appointment.
A couple of things to remember if you're in the thick of this:
1. This is not your fault.
2. Stay connected to your loved ones and fight the temptation to isolate.
3. You're not alone.
4. With help, you will get better.
5. YOUR MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS. It matters for you and for your baby.
Wyatt's Maternity staff is also here for you. Let us know if we can help in any way!