State of New Jersey. Department of Health and Senior Services

perinatal mood disorders. speak up when you are down

The entire period of pregnancy up to one year after delivery is the perinatal period. During this time, most women experience mixed and often contradictory feelings, which gradually diminish as they settle into the new routines of motherhood.

Between 10 percent and 20 percent of women, however, experience sadness, anxiety, depression, frustration and other disturbing emotions. When these symptoms persist, professional help is often necessary.

Symptoms range from mild to severe. Early diagnosis is important, so women need to know the signs and symptoms of perinatal mood disorders. Husbands, partners, friends and family members can help. Often, they recognize a problem even before the woman herself.

A PMD is not a sign of personal weakness or a character flaw. It does not mean a woman is incapable of being a good mother. Many brave women have come forward to share their experiences to reduce the social stigma and encourage others to ask for help.

What Causes Perinatal Mood Disorders?

The exact causes are unknown. Some factors that may contribute are: Changes in hormone levels; a difficult pregnancy; a difficult birth; medical problems (mother or baby); lack of sleep; feeling alone; perceived loss of freedom; sudden changes in routines; personal or family history of depression; prior experience with PPD or other perinatal mood disorders; life stressors such as illness or financial problems.

Who Is at Risk?

Perinatal Mood Disorders can affect any woman of any age, race or economic background who: is pregnant; has recently had a baby; has ended a pregnancy or miscarried; or has stopped breastfeeding.

Treatment

All perinatal mood disorders are treatable.