Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD) are a set of disorders that can occur anytime during pregnancy and the first year postpartum. They include depression, anxiety, panic, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and postpartum psychosis.

Symptoms can appear any time during pregnancy and the first year after childbirth. There are effective treatment options to help you feel better and recover. You are not alone!
  • Perinatal depression may include irritability, guilt, anger, lack of interest in the baby, feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, changes in eating and sleeping habits, trouble concentrating, and may include thoughts of harming the baby or yourself.
  • Perinatal anxiety or panic may include nervousness, extreme worries and fears, including the health and safety of the baby. Some women may experience panic attacks. Symptoms of a panic attack may include: shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, feeling of losing control, numbness and tingling of your arms and hands.
  • Perinatal obsessive compulsive disorder may include repetitive, disturbing and unwanted thoughts or mental images. Some women may feel the need to do certain things over and over again to reduce their anxiety caused by those thoughts.
  • Perinatal post-traumatic stress disorder can be caused by a traumatic childbirth experience or past traumatic life event. Symptoms may include nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, difficulty sleeping and avoidance in things related to the traumatic event.
  • Postpartum psychosis may include seeing or hearing voices or images that others can’t, increased energy and inability or decreased need for sleep, believing things that are not true and distrusting those around you. This rare illness is dangerous. It is important to seek help immediately.

Who is at risk for developing a PMAD?

  • Personal or family history of depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety or panic disorder, bipolar disorder or postpartum psychosis.
  • History of severe Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
  • Lack of support from family or friends
  • High level of physical or emotional stress
  • History of abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, verbal)
  • Pregnancy complications and/or a traumatic delivery
  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • Chronic sleep deprivation
  • History of a eating disorder
  • History of miscarriages or other pregnancy loses
  • History of infertility
  • Thyroid disease or other chronic illness
Every woman is at risk regardless of age, race or financial status.

Any parent can suffer from pregnancy or postpartum mood or anxiety disorders. It is important to reach out for help as soon as possible so you can get the help you need and deserve.

Please call your OB care provider if you are having any of the symptoms listed above.

Things You Can Do

  • Learn as much as you can about pregnancy and postpartum depression and anxiety.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider who has training in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
  • Join a local or online support group where you can interact with other parents.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Being a parent is hard work. You cannot do it all. Ask for help and support from loved ones.
  • Exercise is important and beneficial for your mental health. Keep active in whatever form of exercise that helps you feel better (walking, stretching, dancing etc.).
  • Get enough rest. Take a nap when you can.
  • Take time for yourself.

Online Resources

More Information