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PMADs 101

What to know about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders

Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) can occur during pregnancy and/or postpartum. PMADs can affect those beyond the birthing parents. Partners, caregivers, non-birthing parents, and adoptive parents can all be at risk for PMADs. In addition, surrogates and those who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss can experience symptoms too. Anyone who is struggling is deserving of support and care.

You are not alone

In Canada, almost 1 in 4 mothers who recently gave birth reported feelings consistent with either postpartum depression or an anxiety disorder. The actual number of people who have these feelings may be higher as the research doesn’t include parents who do not identify as mothers (Reference: Statistics Canada).

We support anyone experiencing perinatal distress, no matter the circumstances

Many new parents don’t reach out for support because the symptoms of PMADs can be similar to everyday parenting struggles. Sleep deprivation, worry for your baby, and stress are frequently a part of the transition to parenthood. If you are not feeling like yourself, or your quality of life is being impacted, you deserve support – even if your struggles seem like ‘typical’ new parent struggles

PMADs during the pandemic

The added stress of the pandemic has had a significant impact on the number of people experiencing distress during the perinatal period. Current estimates say that it is now up to 1 in 3 people who have birthed or adopted a baby during the Covid-19 pandemic that will experience a PMAD. If you are struggling right now, you are not alone and you deserve support.

Everyone’s Experience is Different

No two people will experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder exactly the same. In fact, the signs and symptoms can vary widely. Some new parents can’t stop crying, while others never shed a tear. Some can’t find the energy to get out of bed, and others can’t seem to slow down. But the feeling they do share is that something doesn’t feel quite right.

If you don’t feel like yourself, you deserve support.

Signs and symptoms that may indicate a PMAD:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by everyday activities
  • Not experiencing joy or pleasure in your usual activities
  • Feeling like you’re not doing enough or that you’re a “bad parent”
  • Feeling irritable, angry or resentful
  • Feeling numb or unable to feel emotions
  • Crying/weeping even at times that you can’t explain
  • Having difficulty bonding with your baby or having a lack of interest in them
  • Constantly worrying about your baby
  • Having obsessive, distressing thoughts that pop into your mind repeatedly and interfere with your ability to cope (i.e. “intrusive thoughts”)
  • Having frightening thoughts about you or your baby getting hurt
  • Feeling afraid to be alone or alone with your baby
  • Having thoughts of suicide or “running away from it all”
  • Feeling overwhelmed by anxiety or panic attacks
  • Having a loss of appetite or overeating
  • Having difficulty sleeping or staying asleep, feeling tired and exhausted
  • Feeling like you’re alone or have no support
  • Having trouble concentrating, experiencing brain fog
  • Changing your substance use patterns (ex. drinking more alcohol)

A note about risk factors: the many layers of life experiences

There isn’t any one reason why someone will develop a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder. Any new parent or caregiver can develop a PMAD; however, there are certain risk factors that will increase the likelihood.

The following risk factors may increase the likelihood of experiencing a PMAD:

  • Family history of depression, anxiety, or another mental illness
  • Personal history of depression, anxiety, or another mental illness
  • Personal history of childhood abuse
  • Traumatic birth experience
  • Having very high standards for yourself/being a perfectionist
  • Problems with nursing
  • Having a baby that is sick, colicky, or high needs
  • Lacking a support system of family and close friends
  • Being a single parent
  • Being a recent immigrant
  • Going through a significant life change
  • Experiencing financial stress
  • Being queer and/or trans*
  • Beling black, Indigenous, or a person of colour*
  • Living with a disability or chronic illness*
*This is due to the marginalization, oppression, and minority stress that people from these groups experience

How long will I feel this way?

There is no way to know, as every persons journey to wellness is different. While there is no overnight fix, the earlier you seek treatment and support the better. The longer a PMAD persists, the more complicated recovery can get. If you are noticing any of the above signs or symptoms, you deserve support.

Give us a call or text today:

604-255-7999 (call or text) or toll-free at 1-855-255-7999 (call only)

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As a nonprofit and registered charity, we rely on funding from government, community grants, and private donations. Thank you for supporting us so we can continue offering support to new parents and families.