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What are Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders?

by Jessica Hedgepeth, BHT
The term “Perinatal” is a medical term that means “during pregnancy and the first year postpartum.” Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders are mental health disorders that occur during any time during pregnancy or postpartum up to one year.  According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 1 in 7 women suffer from Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) and 800,000 cases are reported in the U.S. each year.* This makes Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) the number one complication of childbirth.*
PMADs include depression & anxiety disorders, PTSD, OCD & postpartum psychosis. 
Depression: Approximately 1-7 women will suffer from pregnancy or postpartum depression.* Common symptoms include low self-esteem, guilt, sleep disturbances, suicidal thoughts, exhaustion, lack of engagement, and mood changes including sadness and irritability. 
Anxiety: Approximately 8.5- 30% of pregnant and postpartum women will experience  general anxiety symptoms and 1-3% will experience panic disorder.* This can include excessive worry about everything, including things that people normally don’t worry about, excessive fear, hyper vigilance, racing thoughts and panic attacks. 
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): Approximately 3-5% of mothers will experience symptoms of pregnancy or postpartum OCD.* These numbers are much higher for women with pre-existing OCD. OCD is a type of anxiety disorder involving intrusive, repetitive thoughts, including thoughts of harming the baby or others. 
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Approximately 1-6% of women will experience PTSD following childbirth or a traumatic pregnancy.* The PTSD is triggered by trauma or an event during pregnancy or labor and delivery that involved actual or threatened serious injury or death to the mother or her infant. Perceptions of the mother that any events were life threatening can also trigger trauma. Symptoms of PTSD from a past trauma can also re-emerge during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. 
Postpartum psychosis: Postpartum psychosis occurs in 1-2 per 1,000 child bearing women usually within the first 1-4 weeks after delivery.* Postpartum psychosis is considered an emergency requiring immediate medical treatment. There is a 5% rate of suicide and a 4% rate of infanticide among these women.* Symptoms may include delusions, hallucinations, disorientation and rapid mood swings. 
Early screening and treatment of PMADs can decrease duration and intensity of the disorder and prevent a crisis.
If you or someone you life is struggling with these issues, please don't hesitate to call our office and receive a free 15-minute telephone consultation with Jessica Hedgepeth - 480-668-8301.
*All statistical data obtained from the Arizona Department of Health Services, 2017