Postpartum Mental Health Disorders: Let’s Break the Stigma

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Besides that postpartum depression screening given before discharge at the hospital freshly after giving birth, postpartum mental health education is barely provided to mothers during and after pregnancy. So let’s take the time to educate OURSELVES.

The forever student in me enrolled in a course named “Keeping Mommy in Mind” by Dr. Ashurina Ream, a clinical psychologist who is certified in perinatal mental health. I’m going to share some of the facts that I learned in her course. 

Clinical psychologists refer to postpartum depression or anxiety as perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) because perinatal means during pregnancy and throughout the first year after birth. However, if not treated, it will persist after the first year of life. 

Jacqueline posing with a rainbow t-shirt that reads, "You are enough."

Risk Factors

According to postpartum.net, risk factors for postpartum mental health disorders or PMADs can include:

  • Previous diagnosis or family history of PMADs
  • Mood response to hormonal shifts (i.e., birth control, menstrual cycle, etc.)
  • Symptoms during pregnancy 
  • History of mood or anxiety disorders
  • Health history of endocrine dysfunction (i.e., thyroid imbalance, fertility challenges, diabetes)
  • Inadequate social support
  • Domestic violence
  • Recent relocation
  • Loss/grief
  • Financial stress
  • Military family
  • Teen parents, single parents, parents of multiples 
  • Sleep deprivation 
  • Relationship or childcare stress
  • Discontinuing breastfeeding abruptly
  • Previous loss
  • History of sexual abuse
  • Complications during pregnancy, delivery, etc.
  • Temperament of baby
  • Age-related stressors
  • Stressors related to climate
  • Parent’s traits (perfectionist, high achieving)
  • Health issues in baby or parents
  • Pain 

Please note that you do not have to have ALL of the symptoms listed in order to be experiencing one of these perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Please also note that dads and partners may also experience postpartum depression. It is not only moms who experience postpartum mental health disorders. 

Perinatal Depression, Anxiety & Rage

Here are some additional resources related to specific PMADs that I found helpful and wanted to share:

Baby Blues V. Postpartum Depression
Perinatal Depression
Perinatal Anxiety
Perinatal Rage and Anxiety
Perinatal Panic 
Perinatal OCD
Perinatal PTSD
Perinatal Mood Disorders: Bipolar I & II
Perinatal Psychosis

Ways to Improve Your Mood

There are some things you can do to improve your mood including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy 
  • Relaxation techniques (slow breathing, muscle relaxation, guided imagery)
  • Better sleep habits 
  • Medication (if recommended by OBGYN or psychiatrist)

Now that we have educated ourselves on ALL of the perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, let’s break the stigma! Stop the judgment and start providing emotional support to those diagnosed with mental health disorders. 

My Own Journey

Having been recently diagnosed with postpartum depression myself, I wanted to take this opportunity to open up about this topic and provide education–not only for moms but also for friends of moms, family members of moms, spouses/partners, etc. 

We SHOULD be able to talk about mental health disorders without being judged. We SHOULDN’T be told that we have no reason to be depressed. We SHOULDN’T have to justify that just because we have postpartum depression, it does NOT mean that we do not love our children or significant other. We SHOULDN’T have to explain that just because we are not enjoying this phase of motherhood, it does not mean that we wish we didn’t become moms. 

If you are experiencing one of the above postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, please do not keep it to yourself.

You do not have to go through it alone, because you are NOT alone. Do not fake that you are okay for the sake of those around you–IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY. Seek professional help. Speak to your OB, speak to a mental health counselor, speak to a psychologist, speak to a psychiatrist. And if medication is recommended- -AKE IT. You know yourself best and if you are not feeling like yourself, do something about it immediately. Take it one day at a time. Some days will be good, some days will be bad. But EVERY SINGLE DAY THAT YOU ARE IN YOUR CHILD(REN)’S LIFE is a good day for them simply because you are their mama. <3

And there is no one better than YOU. YOU ARE ENOUGH. 

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Jacqui is an old soul and finds joy in all things vintage. If she could live in this VW van while singing old tunes with her guitar, she would! She holds a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in speech language pathology. Through singing, she grew an interest in the relationship between music, language, and the brain. She is passionate about combining music and creativity into her multi-sensory approach in order to improve overall use of functional communication skills in a more hands-on way. She is even more passionate about her amazing husband of 10 years and their two children, Joshua and Jovi. She is a wife and a mama before being an SLP and social emotional coach; but, lately, she has found so much peace in the human ability to create herself to become the person she has always wanted to be at any given time, and accepting that that person will evolve time and time again. She is honest and transparent about all things motherhood, marriage, and mental health. She sparks her creativity frequently through singing, music, painting, writing, and creating as her therapeutic outlet. She invites you to follow along @createyourselfco (previously @diyspeechiemommy) on Instagram, Facebook, and Etsy to experience her journey of what was once only DIY, speech therapy, and motherhood to what has now become a more holistic approach-- how she has evolved by creating herself to become the person she has always wanted to be simply by CREATING; and how she has created programs to give parents the tools to create sensational connection with themselves, but also with their children. <3

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you so much for putting this together and sharing your experience. I have personally struggled with (and still do) Postpartum depression and Anxiety.

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