Psychiatric Medicine Associates Psychiatric Medicine Associates
A Word From Our Doctors

INTRODUCTION TO POSTPARTUM MOOD AND ANXIETY SYMPTOMS

by: Dannica Lin | Mar. 24, 2016

Postpartum mood and anxiety concerns can be a very frightening and confusing experience.  It is difficult, especially as a first time parent, to know what is and isn’t “normal” to be experiencing.  Many of the symptoms of depression overlay with symptoms of pregnancy and the typical symptoms of being a parent to a newborn, such as fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and low libido.  Furthermore, women and men can often feel hesitant to discuss these concerns given perceived expectations that new moms and dads should feel happy.

The “baby blues” or postpartum blues are very common, occurring in about 40-80% of women.  This period starts within 2-3 days after delivery, and lasts for up to 2 weeks.  It is characterized by mood swings, tearfulness, irritability, anxiety, sadness, difficulty with sleep and difficulty with concentration.  I typically tell my patients that if they are tearful, and someone asks “why are you crying?” often times the response is “I don’t know!”  However, if you feel that there are multiple negative events, and these events appear to be perceived in a more negative, distorted fashion than how you would typically view them, and these feelings persist past two weeks, then there needs to be careful consideration of post partum depression.

Post partum depression affects 8-15% of women, and 8-10% of men.  It is caused by a combination of hormonal changes, genetic susceptibility, psychological, and social factors.  It is very difficult to adjust to a completely new change in routine, especially if social support is not adequate.  Post partum depression can manifest with different symptoms including, but not limited to:

  • Changes in sleep, energy, appetite, weight and libido
  • Sadness and feeling down
  • Anxious ruminations, panic attacks
  • Irritability and anger
  • Feeling inadequate, overwhelmed or unable to care for baby
  • Feeling ashamed, guilty, and feelings of failure
  • Scary thoughts (ruminations about hurting self or baby)

Treatment including psychotherapy and/or medications for post partum mood and anxiety symptoms works.  However, it can sometimes be a frustrating and time consuming process to find a psychiatrist or psychologist in a timely manner.  I recommend not giving up on this process, however, given competent treatment can have a profound and positive impact on quality of life.

References:

Brockington I. Postpartum psychiatric disorders. Lancet 2004; 363:303.

Gavin NI, Gaynes BN, Lohr KN, et al. Perinatal depression: a systematic review of prevalence and incidence. Obstet Gynecol 2005; 106:1071.

O'Hara MW, Schlechte JA, Lewis DA, Wright EJ. Prospective study of postpartum blues. Biologic and psychosocial factors. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1991; 48:801.

Paulson JF, Bazemore SD. Prenatal and postpartum depression in fathers and its association with maternal depression: a meta-analysis. JAMA 2010; 303:1961.

Wisner KL, Chambers C, Sit DK. Postpartum depression: a major public health problem. JAMA 2006; 296:2616.

From Our Doctors

"I love working at Psychiatric Medicine Associates. I have the freedom to provide quality care for my patients. I can schedule an appropriate amount..." Read More

- David Avery, MD, Seattle, WA

View All Testimonials

Recent News

As we age, our general and mental health needs evolve to require more complex care. Individuals over the age of 60 are more likely to have chronic medical illnesses and be on multiple medications for things such as high blood pressure, diabetes,...

Geriatric Psychiatry

by: Ashley Bouzis | Feb. 06, 2018

As we age, our general and mental health needs evolve to require more complex care. Individuals over the age of 60 are more likely to have chronic medical illnesses and be on multiple medications for things such as high blood pressure, diabetes,...

Read More
Medication Assisted Treatment, commonly referred to as MAT, is nothing new in the treatment of addiction, but has frequently been approached with trepidation by people in recovery and those treating them.  Some of the history of this is...

Medication Assisted Treatment...

by: William Adams | Jan. 24, 2017

Medication Assisted Treatment, commonly referred to as MAT, is nothing new in the treatment of addiction, but has frequently been approached with trepidation by people in recovery and those treating them. Some of the history of this is...

Read More
Sometimes it can feel like a partner's low mood is contagious. We can take our stress home with us after a challenging day at work, or feel irritable or withdrawn for a variety of reasons, impacting the moods of other family members.

Depression and Your...

by: Christine Paprocki | Oct. 25, 2016

Sometimes it can feel like a partner's low mood is contagious. We can take our stress home with us after a challenging day at work, or feel irritable or withdrawn for a variety of reasons, impacting the moods of other family members.

Read More