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Baby Blues & Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders

Having a baby can be one of most exciting and joyous times in a woman’s life. For some moms however, feelings of anxiety or sadness can take over. If this describes you, you’re not alone. Up to 80% of new mothers experience something called “baby blues.”

Baby blues are mild mood changes that begin soon after you give birth to your child. While it’s not the same as postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, it can definitely affect your emotional health.

The most common symptoms of baby blues are irritability, anxiety, and feeling down for a few hours or even a couple of weeks after delivery. These symptoms usually go away on their own, however, you may benefit from coping strategies such as exercise and reaching out to friends.

Talk with your doctor if your baby blues persist after two weeks. It may be a sign that you’re experiencing some form of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMAD).

Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders (PMAD)

PMAD is much stronger than baby blues. Rather than general anxiety, you may also experience depression, post-traumatic stress, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or bipolar disorder. Signs to look out for include:

  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Excessive irritability, anger or agitation
  • Fear of being left alone with the baby
  • Anxiety and panic attacks

Doctors are not certain exactly what causes PMAD but it’s often linked to hormonal changes after delivery, as well as feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or an overall sense of losing your identity.

Treatment for PMAD

If you or a loved one is experiencing PMAD, it’s important to get help from a professional counselor or behavioral health specialist. In most cases, doctors will recommend a combination of the following treatments:

  • Antidepressants
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Peer support

To better understand the level of care you’ll need, talk with your doctor about your symptoms, or reach out to the MOMS Line at SSM Health. MOMS is a phone line staffed by experienced moms who will listen to your concerns and connect you with the resources you need.

What is Postpartum Psychosis?

The most severe type of PMAD is postpartum psychosis. It’s considered a psychiatric emergency since it puts women at an increased risk of suicide and harming their infant.

Get HELP immediately if you’re having any violent thoughts toward yourself or your child. Other signs of postpartum psychosis to look out for, include:

  • Insomnia
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Poor judgment
  • Delusions of infant death
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Extreme agitation
  • Hyperactivity

Moms with postpartum psychosis must receive immediate treatment with antipsychotic drugs and mood stabilizers. If the condition doesn’t improve with medication, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is often recommended.

If the baby blues are getting you down, call your health care provider today. The MOMS Line is also available at 314-768-MOMS (6667) when you just need to hear another voice. Make the call today and begin your journey to better and brighter days.

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