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Almost all new moms and dads experience some degree of perinatal distress or a period of upheaval while they adjust to the myriad changes associated with having a baby. Most parents adjust naturally, and in time find a new equilibrium that works for their family.  For others, this distress doesn't resolve on its own and can lead to more serious issues.  

Though these more serious issues are often referred to as postpartum depression, not everyone experiences the deep sadness and disconnection of PPD.  The continuum of experienced symptoms is varied and is referred to as Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD).  PMADs are common, affecting up to 1 in every 5 pregnant and postpartum women. The good news is these issues are treatable with support from a mental health professional and the sooner you seek help, the better the outcome is likely to be.

If you need help coping with perinatal distress or feel you may have a PMAD, contact me for a complimentary phone consultation.

Below is a list of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD) as well as a link to a postpartum screening tool:

  1. Postpartum Depression can feature appetite and sleep problems, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, lack of interest in the baby, irritation or anger or rage, withdrawal from interacting with others, sadness and crying, the constant feeling of being overwhelmed, and/or possible thoughts of harming oneself or running away and escaping. 

  2. Antenatal Depression has symptoms similar to PPD but instead occurs during pregnancy.

  3. Postpartum Anxiety is marked by excessive worries and fears that are often centered on the baby, difficulty sleeping or eating, and sometimes physical symptoms like diarrhea, headaches or nausea. There is some discussion in the medical world that postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety are actually one in the same illness, and that some moms may have more depression-like symptoms while others’ experience of PPD is more filled with worry, fear and anxiety.

  4. Postpartum OCD is characterized by obsessions – scary intrusive thoughts or mental images that come into your head that you do not want that are often related to harm coming to your baby – and compulsions – doing things over and over to reduce the fears and obsessions like cleaning or counting.

  5. Postpartum Panic Disorder involves recurring panic attacks, which can include shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations and numbness or tingling in the extremities.  Some women having panic attacks feel like they’re having a heart attack.

  6. Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, usually brought on by a traumatic childbirth (or the perception of one), is similar to other forms of PTSD in that sufferers re-experience the trauma they experienced in thoughts and nightmares.

  7. Postpartum Psychosis is a rare and dangerous illness that is considered a psychiatric emergency and features delusions and/or hallucinations and mania.

  8. Bipolar, Peripartum Onset (also known as postpartum bipolar disorder) include symptoms like hypomania and mania, which includes pressurized/rapid speech, grandiose thinking, little need for sleep, agitation and/or depression. If you have these symptoms you should call your doctor immediately due to the potential rapid cycling of bipolar disorder.


If you relate to any of these symptoms or feel you may have a PMAD, click here for a postpartum screening tool and contact me for a complementary phone consultation.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, or if you or a loved one think you may be experiencing postpartum psychosis, please seek immediate medical attention by contacting your medical provider, calling 911, or going to your nearest hospital emergency room. 

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