Perinatal and Post-partum Mood and Anxiety Issues
In general, depression and anxiety are more than twice as prevalent in women than men and can occur at any age. . In addition, women are at increased risk of depression both during and up to one year after delivery of their child (post-partum). Major shifts in hormones are thought to play a role in the increased risk during this time period but other risk factors include isolation, lack of partner or relationship strain, little to no emotional support, financial issues, infant health issues and prior history of depression or anxiety. In addition to the common symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, women during the perinatal period may struggle with additional guilt or fears regarding being a “good mom,” worries about the fetus and/or newborn, reduced interest or lack of enjoyment in being a mom, severe fatigue, and poor sleep and appetite issues that are compounded by pregnancy and the arrival of a newborn. Depression can worsen throughout pregnancy and post-partum, so early recognition and intervention is critical both to the mom and her child.
Post-partum psychosis is a particularly severe form of depression that is complicated by psychotic symptoms such as auditory and/or visual hallucinations, delusions and disorganized thinking, making the mother’s judgement impaired. Post-partum psychosis can be life-threatening to both mother and child and immediate treatment is recommended.
Other Mood Issues Specific to Women
Mood disorders specific to women also include those related to the menstrual cycle and the hormonal shifts that occur during menses across puberty and through menopause. These include premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and the more severe form called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD Hallucinations). There is also perimenopausal depression as well that occurs prior to menopause. The depression and anxiety symptoms are similar to other types of depression. A careful history of symptoms of mood issues around certain times of the menstrual cycle, i.e. depressive symptoms prior to menses, are key to diagnosing and treating these women specific symptoms. Medications, supplements, hormone replacement or manipulation and taking extra time for self-care during the end of a women’s menstrual cycle are key treatment strategies.
If you or a family member have increased depression or anxiety while pregnant or post-partum, or if you notice increased mood issues in association with your menstrual cycle, please reach out to a mental health professional for a thorough evaluation. Have questions?. Help really IS a phone call away.
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