Baby Blues, Anxiety, or Something More Serious?
Pregnancy and early parenthood are filled with joy and excitement. But you may also feel stress, anxiety, and sadness. You might be overwhelmed with new responsibilities and lack of sleep. Perhaps you went through a high-risk pregnancy, have a medically complex baby, or experienced pregnancy or infant loss.
If feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness disrupt your everyday life you may have a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (P.M.A.D.). We are here to support you and help you find the care you need.
WHAT ARE PERINATAL MOOD AND ANXIETY DISORDERS (P.M.A.D.)?
About 80% of new parents experience “the baby blues” or “the postpartum blues.” They may feel overwhelmed, stressed, worried or sad.
If these feelings are very strong, worsen or last longer than two weeks, it can be a sign of a mood or anxiety disorder. Approximately 15-20% of new or future parents are diagnosed with P.M.A.D.
A small percentage of new parents may experience postpartum psychosis. Symptoms include violent thoughts toward yourself or your child, hearing or seeing things that aren’t there, and believing things that aren’t true. This rare but serious condition requires immediate medical help.
P.M.A.D. can occur as early as when you’re trying to become pregnant and can last up to one year after childbirth. Some conditions occur after your baby is born, like postpartum depression or anxiety. No matter when you experience these feelings, our team can help.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF P.M.A.D.?
P.M.A.D. can range from mild to serious. Symptoms include:
- Crying or sadness
- Wanting to be alone
- Lack of interest in your baby or activities you used to enjoy
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or others
- Worrying about caring for your baby
- Worrying about being a good parent
- Feeling scared but not sure why
- Panic attacks
overwhelmed or stressed:
- Wondering if you can make it through another day
- Wishing the challenges would go away
- Feeling that life is too hard
- Changes in appetite or sleep
- Heart palpitations or heaviness in chest
- Rapid breathing (hyperventilation)
You don’t have to have all of the symptoms or wait until they become “bad enough” to seek help. You deserve to feel better. We can help you find the care you need.
WHO CAN HAVE P.M.A.D.?
Any parent or parent-to-be can have P.M.A.D. You may be more likely to have P.M.A.D. if you:
- Have a history of depression or anxiety
- Are under stress
- Don’t have support from your family, community or partner
- Are in a strained relationship with your partner
- Have experienced past trauma
- Went through a high-risk pregnancy or delivery
- Have a medically complex or sick baby
- Have a difficult time accessing the care you need
- Have experienced pregnancy or infant loss
TREATMENT FOR P.M.A.D.
P.M.A.D. is common and treatable. Treatment options may include:
- Individual and couples counseling: Therapy can be brief or continue long-term.
- Medical or psychiatric services: Psychiatry is medicine and/or therapy from a medical doctor who specializes in mental health.
- Community partnerships: There are many community resources you can access for help.
WHEN SHOULD I SEEK HELP?
If you feel sad, stressed or worried at any time on the journey to parenthood, don’t wait until you feel worse or until you have all the symptoms of P.M.A.D. You don’t have to have a diagnosis of P.M.A.D. to get help. The earlier you receive treatment, the sooner you’ll feel better — and be able to give your baby the best care you can.
National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: A free and confidential National Maternal Mental Health Hotline. Call and text for support, understanding, and additional resources, 24/7.
- Text or dial: 1-833-852-6262 (1-833 TLC-MAMA)
988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: If you’re struggling with your maternal mental health, you can call or chat with the Lifeline, 24/7. Crisis counselors are available to listen and support without judgement and with complete confidentiality.
Postpartum Support International: Talk to a volunteer who is a mom and had her own emotional struggles after birth and now wants to help other moms experiencing similar issues. Their website has information about groups for dads.
Postpartum Progress: Provides in-depth information, resources, support and hope for pregnant and new moms who are experiencing depression and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth.
Behavioral Health Response: A locally based 24-hour helpline where a counselor will be able to talk, provide intervention, and if necessary, help with establishing a care plan.
St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute: A team of mental health professionals offer mental health care and therapy during the reproductive life cycle of individuals and their partners across the St. Louis Metropolitan Area. Their treatment plans address your specific needs are provide evidence- and research-based treatments.
WashU Perinatal Behavioral Health Service: Provides screenings, evaluation, and treatment for parents who are experiencing pregnancy-related or postpartum stress, depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. They offer therapy, medication, and other psychiatric care.
Mom’s MoBap Morning Support Group: If you are having very mild symptoms, sometimes being around new moms and talking through our issues and experiences can help relieve some of these feelings.
If you are in an immediate crisis and emergency, please call 911.