What You Need to Know about Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders
Author: Dawn Leprich-Graves
Date: April 28, 2020
Do you know seven moms? One of them has struggled with a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder.
Do you know three moms of color? One of them has struggled with a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder.
Do you know ten dads? One of them has struggled with a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder.
These statistics should be concerning to you.
Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders are the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth, affecting 20-25% of women and their partners. Many times, I’ll hear people say “Oh, I heard she had postpartum.” Each time, I cringe as I internally think, “OF COURSE she did! Postpartum is a period after the birth of a child, NOT a descriptor of her emotional and psychological experience after the birth of that child!!” Everyone experiences “postpartum,” but for some women, it’s a much darker, more difficult transition to motherhood than others.
There are many different types of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and manifestations of those disorders. Here’s a quick run down of different mental health challenges that women (and partners!) can face during pregnancy and/or postpartum:
For additional information regarding these disorders as well as resources for recovering, please visit the Postpartum Support International (PSI) web site:
Perinatal mental health struggles not only impact the well-being of the struggling mother or partner, but also the infant and family unit as a whole. While perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are incredibly challenging, the best news is that they are temporary and treatable! Seeking help, whether through a mental health professional, a peer-to-peer support group, and/or with medication, is critical for these moms, partners, and families.
So what can I do to support a new mom*?
Remember that “new mom” means a mother who has newly given birth or adopted a child.
Know how to find resources to support her if she’s struggling.
Together, we can intentionally support new moms and bravely explore their mental health. As the wise Barbara Katz Rothman said, “Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers – strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.”