Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders impact one in seven women.

What are perinatal mood and anxiety disorders?

Many women will experience some mild mood changes during pregnancy or after the birth of their baby, but one in seven women will experience more significant symptoms of depression or anxiety. These more significant mood changes may be Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD). They can occur anytime during pregnancy and during the first year after baby is born.

Symptoms can include:

  • Frequent crying
  • Sleep and appetite changes
  • Feelings of loneliness, sadness, helplessness
  • Frequent mood changes
  • Anger, frustration, irritability
  • Obsessive and intrusive thoughts (repetitive, sometime scary thoughts that won’t go away)
  • Anxiety, panic, excessive worry
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feelings of being trapped
  • Difficulty bonding with baby
  • Lack of interest in life
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself, baby or others
  • Not feeling like yourself

Who is at risk?

Every woman is at risk regardless of age, race or financial status.

What factors increase my chance of developing a PMAD?

There are additional risk factors that may increase a woman’s chances of developing a PMAD.

  • Having a personal or family history of depression, anxiety, bipolar or any other mental health concern including pregnancy or postpartum mood disorders
  • History of severe Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • Thyroid disease or other chronic illnesses
  • Lack of support from family or friends
  • High level of physical or emotional stress
  • History of abuse
  • Pregnancy complications and/or traumatic birth
  • History of infertility
  • Chronic sleep deprivation
  • Abrupt weaning from breastfeeding or other breastfeeding challenges
  • History of miscarriages or other pregnancy losses

What can I do to decrease my risk?

  • Educate yourself and your support people about PMAD.
    Learn about the signs and symptoms of perinatal mood changes and when to notify your physician. Educate your support system (family and friends) about PMAD. It is important they also know the signs and symptoms.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Take your prenatal vitamins and make sure you are eating a variety of foods in your diet.
  • Exercise. Exercise is important. A walk three to four days a week is beneficial for your physical and mental health.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Nap when you can. Listen to your body and rest when it tells you to rest.
  • Ask for help and get support. Being a mom is hard work. New and expectant mothers cannot do it all. Ask for help and support from family and friends.
  • Take time for you. It is not selfish to schedule some time every day for just you. #taketime4u

Remember, you are not alone, you are not to blame, and with help, you will get better.
If you notice changes in your mood during or after your pregnancy, it is important that you ask for help. Talk to a family member or close friend and notify your physician’s office.

At St. Vincent, we want you to know that you have a place and people you can turn to for support, where you will not be judged and where you can get better with the right kind of resources and help.