Maternal Mental Health Perinatal Anxiety & Mood
As a mother and psychotherapist, I am committed to helping women experiencing emotional, social, and psychological challenges before, during and after pregnancy. I specialize in Women’s Maternal Health and provide an inclusive, safe, non-judgmental environment for supporting mothers with perinatal mood and anxiety, depression, and early parenting struggles to discuss concerns, feelings, thoughts, and distress.
An important part of a mother’s mental health and well-being is being able to share in an authentic, open, and honest way how everything really feels like whether it is experiencing panic attacks, anxiety, depression, pregnancy difficulties, and adapting to pregnancy.
I always thought that having a baby was the most important and happiest event in my life. Approximately 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety. Although a new baby can be exciting and wonderful, it can cause be anxiety making pregnancy a stressful experience. You may be experiencing perinatal anxiety if the feelings interfere with your overall functioning. Various factors contribute to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including hormones, biology, psychology, and environment.
Biological, psychological, and physical changes happen during pregnancy and after having a baby. These changes can fill the pregnancy experience with anxiety, worry, and feeling overwhelmed. These factors can fluctuate from person to person and even from one pregnancy to another pregnancy for the same woman. The risk factors for perinatal anxiety and panic include a family history of anxiety, previous perinatal anxiety or depression, or a thyroid imbalance (hypothyroid or hyperthyroid).
Someone who experiences anxiety may have intrusive thoughts, fears, and worries about their baby’s health, safety, and well-being. You may experience sleep disturbance and insomnia due to overthinking and ruminating thoughts. It may escalate into a panic attack with symptoms of being short of breath, dizziness, chest pain, numbness, a lack of control, and tingling sensations.
Perinatal Anxiety Symptoms
· Constant worry
· Feeling that something dreadful is going to happen
· Feeling that you cannot turn your brain off
· Disturbances in appetite
· Feeling Guilty
· Low Self-Worth
· Inability to sit still
· Scary or Racing Thoughts
· Sleep Disturbance (not enough or oversleeping)
· Crying Frequently
· Fear Of Being Left Alone With The Baby
· Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
· “I am not a good enough mother.”
Perinatal Panic Disorder
You may experience shakiness, trembling, restlessness, irritability, and numbness. It may feel like you cannot take a deep breath have heart palpitations and chest pain. A pain attack is temporary, and it may feel like it comes and goes like a wave
Panic Attack Symptoms
· Racing Heart
· Tingling in the hands or feet
· Short of breath
· Feeling of choking
· Chest pain
· Nausea Chills
· Fear of Dying
What Is Perinatal Depression?
Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders consists of anxiety or depression during pregnancy (perinatal) or throughout the first year after giving birth (postpartum). Approximately 15% to 21% of pregnant and postpartum women experience Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder. It is common for women to experience mood swings after giving birth. You may have ups and downs due to being a first-time mother, exhaustion, joy, sleep deprivation, worry, or stress. Although it is normal to feel emotionally overwhelmed and physically fatigued in taking care of a newborn baby, these emotions and mood swings can develop into significant unpleasant feelings, anxiety, depression, or panic attacks that linger during pregnancy and a year after giving birth. If you are uncertain whether or not these symptoms can be something more, please contact your healthcare provider for a consultation.
Lack of motivation
Crying often and weeping
Sadness and depression
Not feeling like yourself
Becoming easily annoyed, irritable or angry
Isolation and social withdrawal
Having thoughts of harming the baby or yourself
Not interested in things you used to enjoy
Feeling disconnected from the baby
Sleep disturbance – having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
Perinatal anxiety or depression is not your fault. You are not alone. These feelings may prevent you from daily functioning and taking care of yourself and your baby. If you are experiencing these symptoms during or after recently giving birth, please do not hesitate to seek assistance from your primary healthcare provider. Physicians and psychotherapists can collaborate to provide a treatment therapy plan to help alleviate these extreme mood swings and help balance your well-being.
Perinatal anxiety, panic disorder, and depression are usually temporary, and treatment is available with a professional provider. If you are pregnant and have been experiencing these symptoms for more than two weeks, please reach out for help. There is no need for you to suffer. You are not alone. This is not your fault. You are not to blame. I provide a comprehensive approach where you feel acceptance, validation and understanding with compassion, guidance and support. We will utilize evidenced-based science techniques to calm your anxiety, soothe your body, decrease depression, increase self-confidence, heal from childhood wounds, identify interpersonal patterns, and learn new skills in navigating challenges along your journey. I understand what you are going through during this time. Let’s get in touch for a Free 30 Minute Video Consultation. You are not alone. I am here to support you.
If You Are Experiencing a Crisis, Suicidal Thoughts or Thoughts of Harming Your Baby
If you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, immediately seek help taking care of your baby.
· Immediately call 911 or the local hospital emergency room
· Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK
· (1-800-273-8255) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
· Chat at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.
· Contact the Crisis Text Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
· Text HELLO to 741741.
· Seek help from your primary care physician
· Call a mental health professional
· Reach out to your partner, close friend, or family.
· Contact a spiritual leader in your faith community.
Byrnes, L. (2018). Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, Volume 14, Issue 7, pp. 507-513, ISSN 1555-4155, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nurpra.2018.03.010.
Kendig, S., Keats, J., Hoffman, M.C., Kay, L.B., Miller, E.S.. et al. (2017). Consensus Bundle on Maternal Mental Health: Perinatal Depression and Anxiety, Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, Volume 46, Issue 2, Pages 272-281, ISSN 0884-2175, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jogn.2017.01.001.
Long, M.M., Cramer, R.J., Jenkins, J., et al. (2019). A systematic review of interventions for healthcare professionals to improve screening and referral for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Arch Women’s Ment Health 22, 25–36. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00737-018-0876-4.
Meltzer-Brody S., Rubinow D. (2021) An Overview of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders: Epidemiology and Etiology. In: Cox E. (eds) Women’s Mood Disorders. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-71497-0_2.
UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders www.womensmooddisorders.org