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Postpartum Depression & PMADs

Understanding Postpartum Depression

Perinatal mood disorders (PMAD) are the umbrella term for postpartum with the specification of one or more of the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Psychosis

There is a significant underdiagnosis of PMAD’s. Postpartum depression impacts up to 21% of mothers.  Mothers are generally only seen at their 6 week follow up OB appointment and often do not disclose symptoms when they are experiencing them. If they do, they may simply be given a prescription like Zoloft and are not referred for further treatment, like therapy. Less than 86% of pregnant women with psychiatric diagnosis (like depression or anxiety) were treated! WHAT. What are we doing with these new mommas?

ALSO: 1 in 10 dads has a PMAD. We often only think of the mothers, but Dad’s actually suffer from PMAD’s as well. It is likely this number is higher however, dads are not reporting their symptoms because they don’t think they have any and doctors aren’t asking.

Okay so, what exactly then is a PMAD?

It is NOT BABY BLUES. If someone tells you that you just have the baby blues but you are experiencing the symptoms for longer than 2 weeks, they are probably wrong.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression include:

  • Sadness
  • Crying
  • unexplained physical complaints
  • suicidal thoughts
  • appetite changes
  • sleep disturbances
  • poor concentration/focus
  • irritability and anger
  • hopeless and helplessness
  • guilt and shame

The baby blues do exist! They impact about 60-80% of new moms. This can be crying and feelings of being overwhelmed with new motherhood. It is relatively normal and it lasts anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks, NO MORE.

Here are some of the risk factors to think about that increase someone’s risk for PMAD:

  • Prenatal Depression and/or Prenatal Anxiety
  • Recent stressful life events
  • Inadequate social support
  • Poor marital relationship – One of the most consistent findings is that among women who report marital dissatisfaction and/or inadequate social supports, postpartum depressive illness is more common.
  • Low self-esteem
  • Childcare stress
  • Difficult infant temperament

If mom is having symptoms while pregnant, START TREATMENT. The outcome is going to be way better for her and the baby.

If you or someone you know is struggling with PMAD feel free to give us a call and get set up for an appointment! There is no shame in seeking out treatment and there are always options. Seeking out treatment is hard, but the alternative is not having care, which impacts both you and your family. 

If you are struggling and want to reach out to schedule an appointment with our specialist, call Lifeologie Grand Rapids at (616) 929-0248! I

Additional Resources:

If you think it may be more urgent and you need to talk to someone right away, you can do so at the following: 

PSI Warmline: 1-800-944-4773

Spectrum Health Warmline 391-5000

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call Network 180’s 24-hour Access Center at 616-336-3909. 


About the author:

Amanda Martin Grand Rapids Ada Counselor

Amanda Martin, LMSW

Amanda knows that coming to therapy can be tough. She will put you at ease within minutes. Amanda works with people that have experienced trauma, are struggling with substance use, and with new mommas and poppas being impacted by pregnancy-related concerns! She loves using EMDR, just ask her about it!

Related Articles:

The Other PostPartum (PostPartum Depression Pt 2)

What No One Tells You About Pregnancy

Women’s Counseling (Counseling for Women)