PMAD… Be Informed!

PMAD (Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders)… the most common complication of pregnancy and it’s more that just postpartum depression. 1 out of every 5 women can be affected by some form of perinatal mood or anxiety disorder during or after pregnancy. I had no idea what PMAD was and how many women it affected until a nurse from Pine Rest came to speak at one of our MOPs meetings. I’m not writing this to create fear, but more for awareness and how to get help or offer help to other moms dealing with any type of PMAD.

What are Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders?

PMAD encompasses conditions from pregnancy until two years after a baby is born and symptoms last longer than 3 weeks. It includes depression, anxiety, psychosis, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive order, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The highest time of risk is 6 months after childbirth. Symptoms can include excessive worry, sadness, guilt, hopelessness, sleep problems, fatigue, loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities, change in appetite, irritability, and difficulty making decisions.

Wondering if theres anything you can do to help reduce the risk of developing PMAD?

Just as a woman can be proactive about the physical health of herself and her baby, she can also make preparations during pregnancy to take care of her emotional and mental health too! Here are some specific actions that can help reduce the risk: Ask friends, family, community to help once you bring the baby home by bringing meals, cleaning the house, grocery shopping or just watching the baby while mom naps. Practice healthy lifestyle habits by eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep and moderate exercise. Identify people to talk with openly, a person or group you feel safe sharing with that can provide helpful insights and offer support. Reduce stress by setting realistic expectations on parenthood, being flexible, and not taking on more that you can handle. Seek professional help if you’ve had any history of any type of PMAD for regular check-ins throughout pregnancy and postpartum.

Heres how Family and Friends can help, the biggest thing you can do for a new mama is practical support. Some examples are wash the dishes, bring a meal, care of the older child, and many more! Ask questions about how they are feeling, eating, sleeping, etc and then wait listen and validate feelings. Let them know they are not alone and other people feel this way. If you are noticing warning signs of PMAD, address it openly and assist them with finding help.

Treatment and Professional Support

Many professional services are available to help individuals experiencing a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. The level of treatment recommended will depend on the diagnosis and the severity of the symptoms. Look for a therapist with advanced training in the treatment of PMAD. Here are some options to look into: Support groups, talking with others who understand can be a great place to find support and meet people who have recovered from PMAD. Warmlines, many organizations have a free warmline for you to leave a message and they can help answer questions and connect you to specific resources. Outpatient treatment, most women experiencing a PMAD can receive treatment on an outpatient basis and often a support person and the infant are welcome to join the treatment. Day or Partial hospitalization programs, for people with more severe symptoms but good support at home, these programs can provide intensive therapy while allowing parents to return home at night. Pine Rest offers a Mother and Baby Partial program in Grand Rapids, which is one of only a few in the country. Psychiatric hospitalization, for those with severe symptoms such as postpartum psychosis or fear of self-harm, treatment is provided in a safe environment where healing can begin.

By spreading awareness about perinatal mood disorders, we can help open up the conversation about what is not an uncommon experience for many women in their new role as mothers. Remember you can have a mood disorder and not feel depressed, any mother or mother-to-be can be affected, the signs are not always clear, it’s more common than you think, sleepless nights aren’t always a part of normal postpartum, breastfeeding moms don’t have to quit nursing to get help, traumatic pregnancy or birth can impact a mother immensely, and help is ALL around! If you have questions about PMAD symptoms, resources and/or treatment call 844.MOM.HOPE (666.4673) and it will be returned within a business day. Calls are welcome from moms, family members, friends, healthcare workers, and other support people.

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Resources for this blog came from Pine Rest.