Perinatal Mental Health

Your heart likely stopped every time you’ve taken a pregnancy test. Whether your test showed one line the first three tests you took or two lines instantly (or that anxiety-provoking line that seems to be screaming “maybe?!”), feeling a flood of emotions is normal. For many women, getting pregnant is one of the biggest transitions she’s yet faced in her lifetime. This isn’t the time to pull up your boot straps, it’s the perfect time to focus on yourself and your fears, anxieties, and needs. You may be elated, thrilled, and over-the-moon with joy and the next second be terrified, anxious, and overwhelmed. You may be wondering how this pregnancy will impact your marriage or if you and your partner are ready for this next step. From pre-conception to pregnancy to postpartum care to the early parenting years, it is my goal to support you and help you process the difficult feelings you may be experiencing. Together we will find a way to get you back at it! And I welcome your little one at our appointments—I know you’re dealing with some tough stuff and I want counseling to be as easy and accessible as possible to you. Check out my Services page on the different services I offer that may make therapy easier for you with your little one.

What is postpartum depression?

What are perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and what are the different kinds?

Many women don’t know that postpartum depression is only one in a wider spectrum of perinatal mental illnesses. (The word “perinatal,” by the way, means during pregnancy and after birth, so perinatal mental illnesses are those that happen any time during pregnancy or the first year postpartum.) Not everyone experiences the deep sadness and disconnection of postpartum depression.

Here is a list of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders we think you should know about:

  • Postpartum Depression can feature appetite and sleep problems, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, lack of interest in the baby, irritation or anger or rage, withdrawal from interacting with others, sadness and crying, the constant feeling of being overwhelmed, and/or possible thoughts of harming oneself or running away and escaping.
  • Antenatal Depression has symptoms similar to PPD but instead occurs during pregnancy.
  • Postpartum Anxiety is marked by excessive worries and fears that are often centered on the baby, difficulty sleeping or eating, and sometimes physical symptoms like diarrhea, headaches or nausea. There is some discussion in the medical world that postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety are actually one in the same illness, and that some moms may have more depression-like symptoms while others’ experience of PPD is more filled with worry, fear and anxiety.
  • Postpartum OCD is characterized by obsessions – scary intrusive thoughts or mental images that come into your head that you don’t not want that are often related to harm coming to your baby – and compulsions – doing things over and over to reduce the fears and obsessions like cleaning or counting.
  • Postpartum Panic Disorder involves recurring panic attacks, which can include shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations and numbness or tingling in the extremities. Some women having panic attacks feel like they’re having a heart attack.
  • Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, usually brought on by a traumatic childbirth (or the perception of one), is similar to other forms of PTSD in that sufferers re- experience the trauma they experienced in thoughts and nightmares.
  • Postpartum Psychosis is a rare and dangerous illness that is considered a psychiatric emergency and features delusions and/or hallucinations and mania.
  • Bipolar, peripartum onset (also known as postpartum bipolar disorder) include symptoms like hypomania and mania, which includes pressurized/rapid speech, grandiose thinking, little need for sleep, agitation and/or depression. If you have these symptoms you should call your doctor immediately due to the potential rapid cycling of bipolar disorder.