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  Perinatal Mental Health


Starting a family is a dream for many women and men. It is the beginning of a journey marked with love, fear, hope, and excitement. They spend months focusing on their health as well as planning for the birth and for their future as a family.


However, for many women through no fault of their own, pregnancy comes with mood and anxiety issues, especially in the postpartum period. Even with no history of mental health symptoms, many women find themselves experiencing severe depression, uncontrollable anxiety, negative or no feelings towards the baby, intrusive or even paranoid thoughts which can sometimes lead to psychosis or suicide. Motherhood is not what they expected.

The perinatal period includes the pregnancy and the first year of an infant’s life. Perinatal, and especially postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, are far more common than medical complications of pregnancy and childbirth. These disorders include postpartum:

  • OCD

  • panic disorder

  • PTSD (from a traumatic birth)

  • Depression

  • bipolar disorder

  • psychosis

Depression can be caused by sensitivity to hormonal changes, genetic vulnerability, social stress, trauma, and sleep deprivation. It occurs in approximately 10% of new fathers and other non-birth partners. It can also occur in adoptive parents. 


These postpartum complications have been known by various names for centuries, and women have suffered alone due to the shame of not meeting societal expectations of new mothers. However, more and more women and their partners are speaking out and telling their stories, helping reduce the stigma. The severity of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are preventable by early screening and interventions and all the conditions are treatable. Additionally, there are many support groups as well as providers trained in psychotherapy and/or psychopharmacology who can assist women in making a full recovery. Many women can and do become pregnant again and complete their families.

Please visit my resources page for more information

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