The Bristol Press – A HEALTHY LIVING: Why Moms May Not Be Well During Pregnancy and Postpartum
“Since I got pregnant, I have felt very anxious. I feel sad, alone and in tears for no reason.
“I fight. I feel overwhelmed. I don’t know how long I can last!
Anxiety and depression affect all ages and genders, but women in the perinatal period are more likely to experience depression. The perinatal period is defined as pregnancy and the first year after childbirth (also called postpartum). This period is also the most common time for women to be admitted to an inpatient psychiatric facility. While it is common to have an emotional disturbance with hormonal changes during pregnancy, it is not acceptable to be constantly crying, anxious, agitated, sad, worried, or lost throughout pregnancy. It is also common for women to suffer from baby blues (anxious, stressed, tearful, lonely, sad and irritable) after childbirth. However, these should improve within the first two weeks after giving birth. If these symptoms persist for a longer period of time, it requires the attention of a medical / psychiatric provider.
Perinatal mental disorders are the # 1 complication of pregnancy and childbirth. One in seven women can suffer from perinatal mental disorders. Perinatal mental health and substance use disorders are the main causes of maternal mortality. Untreated perinatal mental health results in poor prenatal care; increased substance use and smoking; suicide attempts; leading cause of maternal mortality; long-term persistent or recurrent mood disorders – unipolar or bipolar; complications of pregnancy; gestational weight retention; lactation difficulties. While these mental health issues affect the mother, they also affect the baby. It can lead to premature birth, low birth weight; increased dysregulation, irritability, crying; malnutrition, stunted growth; difficulty sleeping; cognitive, emotional and developmental delays; internalization disorders; externalized disorders; and possibly depression / anxiety in adolescents which will most likely continue into adulthood.
Risk factors: previous experience of anxiety or depression; change in hormonal levels, family history of mental illness, stress involving new changes in the life and care of a newborn, isolation and lack of social support, financial support, employment, emotional stressors, baby having special needs and difficult childbirth.
How to get help: Contact a health care provider: your primary care provider (PCP) or gynecologist (OBGYN) or your child’s pediatrician or psychiatric provider or therapist; talk about your feelings with loved ones, friends and family; get help caring for the baby; get enough rest and sleep; reduce tasks and less important activities; join support groups for mothers.
Having a perinatal mental disorder is not your fault. It’s treatable. Early detection and treatment makes all the difference. Seek help as soon as you notice symptoms. It can get worse without any treatment. Most importantly, “Be kind to yourself! ”
National Hopeline Network
The National Lifeline for Suicide Prevention (provides 24 hour assistance)
800-273-TALK (8255). Chat options are also available at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
211 or 211.org
Crisis text line
www.crisistextline.org or text HOME to 741741
In case of emergency or crisis, dial 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Khushboo Surti, MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC, Dorota Urban, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, are certified nurse practitioners working in the outpatient psychiatric services of Bristol Health Medical Group located at 10 North Main St, Bristol. For an appointment or additional information, please call 860-314-2052 or visit www.bristolhealth.org