Last week I drove up to UConn Health Sciences center and attended an incredible two-day training on Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Participation in the training resulted in my being given a certificate in Perinatal Mood Disorders: Components of Care, but more importantly, it reinvigorated a passion I feel for working with women in all stages of motherhood, from early considerations and ambivalence about whether motherhood is even a desired path, contending with the journey to become a mother (or not), and then coping with the adjustment to the reality of motherhood once a pregnancy occurs/an adoption is arranged, and a child is on the way. Motherhood is hard. As a mother of two, and as a clinical psychologist who has worked with many mothers, I am not sure there is a more fertile time for personal growth, a more vulnerable time for crisis, and sometimes, both at once, than during the transition to motherhood.
When we actually start talking about Perinatal Mood and Anxiety, we get into very serious terrain in the world of maternal and infant health. Can you believe that one in seven women will meet criteria for a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder? Up to 23% of pregnant women will experience moderate to severe symptoms of depression and/or anxiety (Gaynes et al., 2005), and up to 20% of mothers will meet criteria for postpartum depression (Earles, 2010). This is a major public health issue. The impact for women is huge, the impact on partners and marriages dramatic, and the mother-baby attachment is put at risk, which can have huge consequences to a child and family. The long term impacts are real. I will write more about this over time, but if you are feeling a sadness that you can’t shake, anxiety that you can’t stop, or noticing unusual or unwelcome thoughts, please call me to be assessed and treated, or call Postpartum Support International and they can put you in touch with someone who treats PMADs. I absolutely love the PSI slogan and will end with it here:
“You are not alone. You are not to blame. With help, you will be well.”