Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorder

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Experiencing pregnancy and the birth of a child can be a very happy and exciting time in a woman’s life, but it can also be a time of mixed emotions and anxiety.  Did you know that depression is the #1 complication of childbirth?  It is estimated that approximately 15-20% of pregnant women will experience moderate to severe symptoms of depression.

Disorders that affect a woman’s mood during pregnancy and after her baby is born are called ‘’Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders’’ (PMAD). “Perinatal” is a word used to describe the period of pregnancy and the first year after the baby is born.

  • Baby Blues – Within 3-5 days after birth a woman may experience temporary emotional distress called the Baby Blues. Symptoms can include crying spells, sadness, irritability, fatigue and frustration. This is normal and is experienced by 4 out of 5 women as they adjust to their new role. This stage will pass in a few days to a few weeks.
  • Postpartum Depression and Anxiety – Sometimes the Baby Blues don’t go away. If a woman experiences the following symptoms and they last 2 or more weeks she needs to speak with her health care provider: anger, fear, guilt, lack of interest in the baby, sleep and appetite changes, difficulty concentrating/making decisions, and possible thoughts of harming the baby or herself. Treatment is available and women do get better.

Without appropriate intervention, maternal depression can have long term and adverse implications for both the mother and child. A mother’s mood/anxiety symptoms can have a direct impact on her partner as well. This may put a strain on the couple’s relationship.

If you think you might be experiencing a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, you may choose to use this depression screening tool.  Print it off, fill it out, score your answers, and bring it to your health care provider.  Remember, if you think something isn’t right, it’s good to talk to your health care provider, despite what the tool says.

We offer a weekly support group for women experiencing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. For more information, contact us at 519.352.7270 ext. 2903.

Last updated: May 2017

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