Reproductive mental health
Professional support during prepregnancy, pregnancy and the postnatal period
Many have heard the phrase “baby blues.” When the “blues” lasts for more than a few weeks, this may be an indicator of Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Anxiety. It can be difficult to know whether what you’re going through is due to normal transition challenges or if your symptoms require professional support.
Signs and symptoms of Postpartum Depression (PPD) may include:
- Having a hard time bonding with your baby
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Isolating from friends and/or family
- Sleep difficulties (inability to sleep or sleeping too much)
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Decreased interest and/or pleasure in activities
- Intense irritability and/or anger
- Fear that you’re not a good parent
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Difficulty with concentration and/or making decisions
- *Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
- *Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Signs of Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) may include:
- Racing thoughts
- Constant or near-constant worry that can’t be eased
- Difficulty relaxing
- Constantly checking if baby is breathing
- Intrusive thoughts (thoughts you don’t want to have)
- Overwhelming anxious feelings
- Panic attacks
- Sleep disruption (in excess of the usual sleep disruptions during the infant period, such as, difficulty resting even while your infant is napping)
- Fear or dread that something awful will happen
You might also experience the following physical symptoms:
- Dry mouth
- Heart palpitations
- Shakiness or trembling
- Nausea or vomiting
Are there other perinatal mental health concerns?
In addition to postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, it is possible to experience other mental health conditions during pregnancy and the postnatal period. These conditions include: postnatal psychosis, other mood disorders, trauma-related conditions and substance use disorders. Even if a person doesn’t have a history of mental health symptoms or diagnoses, it is possible to experience any of the above conditions during the perinatal period.
Can you have postpartum mental health concerns if you didn’t give birth?
People often ask if it’s possible for fathers or non-carrying partners to have postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. The answer is yes! Caring for an infant, whether for the first time or when adding to your family, is challenging and can cause symptoms that require support. Partners may feel sad, overwhelmed, fatigued, restless or anxious or you might have changes in their usual eating and sleeping patterns. Partners who are young, have a history of depression, experience relationship problems or are struggling financially are most at risk of postpartum mental health conditions. Postpartum depression or anxiety in fathers or non-carrying partners can have the same negative effect on partner relationships and child development as those conditions do after giving birth.
Each person is unique and a professional assessment can help you determine what options will work best for you, including, individual, couple, family and/or group therapy. If you recognize some of the above symptoms in yourself, you are not alone! The licensed counselors at Encompass Hope are here to support you. Reach out for a free 15 minute consultation today.
Questions We Commonly Get Asked
What is “Reproductive Mental Health”?
Reproductive Mental Health is a therapeutic service specifically focused on emotion and mood changes related to infertility, pregnancy, and after birth up to one year postpartum.
Why should I see a specially trained therapist?
Therapists who specialize in Reproductive/Perinatal Mental Health have received additional training around diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders surrounding pregnancy and childbirth.
What are Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders?
Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs), include the following: Anxiety, Depression, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), psychosis, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Bipolar Disorder.
Is only the parent who gave birth affected by PMADs?
No! Both partners can be affected by PMADs. Although the hormonal shifts are experienced primarily by the person who gave birth, it is a significant transition for all.
I experienced misscarriage or infant loss, can I still have PMADs?
Yes. Infant loss is a significant traumatic event that is difficult to grieve alone. Events like this can lead to development of PMADs, and connecting with a specialist for support can be incredibly helpful during this time.
What is the difference between PMADs and the “baby blues?”
Many parents who have given birth experience the “baby blues” due to the many changes occurring for the birthing parent (ie: hormone shifts, lack of sleep, adjusting to changes). If symptoms last longer than 2 weeks, are affecting daily functioning, and/or are becoming more intense, it may be a good idea to see a Reproductive Mental Health therapist or speak with a medical professional for an assessment.
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3460 Washington Drive, Suite 214
Eagan, MN 55122
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