Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

At some point from pregnancy through the first year of giving birth, 15-20% of all women will experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (Wisner, KL. JAMA Psychiatry, March 2013), including Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety, Postpartum or Pregnancy Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Postpartum Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Postpartum Psychosis.

The causes of PMAD are many and complex, and research continues to uncover different factors that influence a woman’s developing PMAD. Some women are more sensitive to hormonal changes, while others have a genetic vulnerability. Women in abusive relationships and women who have conceived following fertility treatment, women who have had difficult pregnancies or traumatic births are also at a greater risk for developing a PMAD.

Even though PMAD affects such a large segment of mothers—across all races, cultures, socioeconomic levels and ages—there are many barriers that stand in the way of women getting the treatment they need. The psychological barriers to getting help are fueled by our society’s myths about pregnancy and motherhood. Myths such as pregnancy will come easily, pregnancy ends in a healthy baby, pregnancy will bring the couple closer together, upon seeing your baby you will immediately feel love for her/him, motherhood will fulfill you, and babies sleep all the time, to name but a few.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you might be suffering from a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder:

  • Trouble eating or sleeping
  • Increased irritability
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • A lack of pleasure in things that once brought you joy
  • Anxiety and or panic
  • Self loathing
  • Perfectionism
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Fear that you will harm yourself or your baby
  • Hopelessness

These are just some of the symptoms women suffering from perinatal mood or anxiety disorders (PMAD) experience. Everyone is different, and if you have concerns about how you are dealing with the transition to motherhood, it’s important speak to a professional.

When a woman’s experience is different from her dreams and expectations of pregnancy or motherhood, she often feels a sense of shame and failure, stopping her from reaching out for help. Getting help is paramount to getting better.

I offer individual, couples, and family therapy for clients struggling with perinatal mood or anxiety disorders. I will shape the way I work with you to fit your own situation. Through our work together, you will receive empathic, non-judgmental counseling that might include psychoeducation on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, tools for decreasing symptoms that are causing you distress, help in developing a support system, referrals to other resources and parenting support.

Call me with any questions you have about beginning therapy.

Emily Margalit, MFT – Professional Help with Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Depression Treatment, and Treatment for Perinatal Mood Disorders and Perinatal Anxiety Disorders in Walnut Creek, Lafayette, and Danville, CA, California