Could You be Affected by Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders?

Organization: Author:
Hopey Witherby, RN-BC, MSN/ED, clinical director, MemorialCare Center for Mental Health & Wellness
Live Healthy Topics:

During a pregnancy and immediately after, it is natural for women to experience changes in their feelings and mood, including feeling more tired, irritable or worried. While these changes in mood are common, they can sometimes be severe enough to warrant treatment from a physician.

When feelings of depression or anxiety worsen and begin to interfere with daily activities, it is important to seek help for your symptoms.

Who is affected by perinatal mood and anxiety disorders?

Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can affect any childbearing woman regardless of age, income, culture or education. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of women feel seriously depressed and anxious while pregnant and after giving birth. The condition poses considerable health risks to these women and their families, particularly for the small number of patients (about 5 percent) for whom the condition is severe enough to require inpatient care.

Those with severe perinatal depression face a significant risk of:

  • Impaired maternal-infant interactions
  • Affecting the child’s cognitive, emotional, social and behavioral development

What are the symptoms?

Women may experience several of the following symptoms, either during pregnancy or after childbirth:

  • Feeling sad
  • Crying a lot
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Lack of energy
  • Not interested in things you used to enjoy
  • Not interested in your baby
  • Fear of hurting your baby or yourself
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Withdrawing from people
  • Feeling overwhelmed

It is important to recognize that these symptoms are not in any way the fault of the mother. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are mental health issues that require medical treatment and professional care. Without proper treatment they can snowball into bigger issues and be harder to treat, but with treatment women can get better.

What is happening to me?

Feelings of depression or anxiety that occur during or after pregnancy can be a sign of a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder. Even though being pregnant and caring for a new child can be very joyful and exciting, the sudden changes that come with a new child also include lots of hard work. It is natural for a woman to experience changes in her feelings and mood during pregnancy and after giving birth. For many women these feelings eventually go away once they get into the routine of their new lives, but persistent unpleasant feelings could be signs of a serious issue.

Where can I go to receive treatment for my symptoms?

At Community Hospital Long Beach the perinatal mood and anxiety disorders program has created a well-rounded approach to diagnosing and treating many different types of disorders. Correctly identifying the problem is the first step in the process and from there a specialized care team creates a tailored treatment plan for each patient.

With the recent additions to the MemorialCare Center for Mental Health & Wellness, Community Hospital Long Beach is now able to offer inpatient, outpatient and intensive outpatient programs for moms and moms-to-be who are suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

The perinatal mood and anxiety disorders program at Community Hospital Long Beach serves women with severe perinatal depression, mood and anxiety disorders. The program is tailored to the needs of these women and their children, with a focus on promoting mother-child bonding and attachment, while helping the mother overcome her illness.

In addition, there is a partial hospitalization/intensive outpatient program to serve the needs of women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders that do not require inpatient care, but require more support and structure than routine outpatient care. The comprehensive program provides individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, medication consultation and support, skill building groups, creativity and movement groups, as well as education groups related to nutrition, breastfeeding and maternal-infant bonding.

If you or a loved one feel you may be suffering from a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, please call 855-CHLB-4-HELP. Phone line is monitored 24 hours a day seven days a week.