Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders occur in up to 1 year after the birth of your child. Check out the comprehensive list of PMADs and their symptoms below:
- You have an absolute hopeless feeling in the pit of your stomach. You can’t believe that you ever wanted this “mom life”, and now that it’s here you are overwhelmed about the fact that it will never go away.
- Sleeping seems like an impossible task. Even when the baby is sleeping! You are so anxious and upset that you can’t fall asleep OR stay asleep.
- You’re a total slug. You can’t get off the couch and have zero motivation to do anything for yourself or your baby. Netflix sounds much more appealing.
- You are dropping weight like it’s hot. Have you noticed that you don’t have an appetite? That even your favorite meal of all time sounds repulsive? This is a real sign of PPD.
- You are gaining weight. So much so that you are about to have your own personal pillow to cry on. Your emotional eating is out of control. And you don’t even care.
- You look at this beautiful precious baby that you have and you don’t even want it. In fact, you can’t stand the sight of the baby. And you feel guilty for feeling such horrible things.
- You cry. All. The. Time. You cannot get ahold of your emotions, and they are spinning out of control.
- Being alone with the baby terrifies you. I mean, what are you supposed to do with this tiny little human that needs every second of your attention?
- You begin to self harm, desperate to feel something, anything.
- You have thoughts about harming your baby. And quite frankly, you’re at a point where you would do anything to get rid of this little thing that has taken your life away.
- You have thoughts to die by suicide. Because everyone here would be better off without you, right? Your baby, your partner, your friends, your family – they would all be MUCH better off without the person that you have become.
- You have a sinking feeling that you now have a problem that is never going to go away. This problem is here to stay for the next 18 years of your life. Are you ever going to feel like the “old you” again?
- You ghost everyone. Sticking pins in your eyes seems a lot more pleasant than having to interact with people at the moment. The thought of having to put up a façade that this whole mom thing is peachy is exhausting.
- You dread the fact that a new day is going to come around. You’ve made it through one day, and it’s insulting that the universe would ask you to conquer another. If it were up to you, you would just slip into oblivion and never return to this life.
- You are angry. Good gracious, you are angry. You’re angry at your self, your partner, your baby. Can ANYONE do ANYTHING right?!
- You feel like you should have never taken on motherhood, and that you’ve just made the biggest mistake of your life. And because of that, the overwhelming guilt sets in. How could you ever feel this way about this beautiful baby who didn’t ask to be brought into this world?
- Nothing sounds fun. Not even your favorite hobby. Everything has lost it’s luster.
- You feel worthless. You feel like you don’t bring any value to the world. What’s the point of your existence anyway?
- You are so dis-bonded from your baby, that it feels like you are babysitting someone else’s kid. When is the real mom going to come take this thing off your hands?
- You doubt that you should have ever become a mother. You know that you’re never going to get the hang of this. Can we please just go back to taking care of ourselves? We were enough to deal with on our own.
- You feel like everything is going to hurt your baby. Because of this, you find your self constantly checking on baby and ensuring nothing dangerous could come within a 20 foot radius of it. Watch out everyone, momma bear will protect her baby, even if it costs her her sanity.
- You feel like everyone is watching your every move. They must be, right? You’re a new mom, and they want to see if you have it figured out.
- You obsessively worry that the baby will turn up ill. Whip out the sanitizer and disinfectant spray – all the germs MUST go.
- You absolutely cannot unwind. Your mind is at 100 all the time. And as exhausting as it is, it’s worth it if it means it keeps your baby from harm, or so you think.
- Sleeping and eating feel like they take up too much of your time. You should be spending that precious time obsessing over your baby and its safety.
- You cannot focus for the life of you. There’s too much to worry about all the time. You don’t have time to focus.
- Because you’re so obsessed with creating the perfect, safe environment for your baby, you need constant reassurance from others that you are doing so. You NEED to know that you are doing a good job.
- Panic attacks. Panic attacks feels like your body is shutting down – you start to feel like you can’t breathe, like your heart is going to beat out of your chest, like your thoughts are going a million miles a minute, like an elephant is physically crushing your chest, and like you could pass out at any moment.
- You are overwhelmed by all of the things that come with motherhood – packing a diaper bag, feeding the baby, bathing the baby, going to endless doctors appointments, cuddling the baby, even just keeping the baby alive seems like an overwhelming task.
- The anxiety has reached a peak, and your body is beginning to show off some of the physical symptoms of your newfound friend. You may find that your chest feels tight, you are nauseous, you are dizzy, and you are BURNING up from the hot flashes.
Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (PPOCD)
- repetitive obsessions (intrusive and persistent thoughts or mental images)
- compulsions repetitive behaviors performed with the intention of reducing the obsessions
- a sense of horror about these thoughts
Note: an easy indicator to determine whether or not you are experiencing PPOCD is to ask yourself this: Are the obsessive thoughts getting in the way of daily functioning? (i.e. You have cleaned the baby’s bottle, but just to be absolutely sure, you clean it one – or a dozen – more times.)
Postpartum Panic Disorder
- feelings of extreme anxiety and recurring panic attacks
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- heart palpitations
- excessive worry or fears (especially fear of dying, losing control, and/or that one is going crazy)
Postpartum Psychosis (PPP)
- delusions (paranoid, suspicious or irrational beliefs)
- extreme agitation or even violent behavior
- easily confused or disoriented, poor judgment
- obsessing over the baby
- being extremely fearful or anxious
- displaying bizarre behaviors that are uncharacteristic of the individual
- extreme and rapid mood swings
- inability/refusing to eat or sleep
- taking self-harming actions
- suicidal thoughts
- suicidal attempts
- thought of harming or killing her baby
- difficulty remembering/concentrating and communicating
Postpartum Traumatic Stress Disorder (PPTSD)
- intrusive re-experiencing of a past traumatic event (could be childbirth itself)
- flashbacks or nightmares
- avoidance of stimuli associated with the event, including thoughts, feelings, people, places and details of the event
- persistent increased arousal (irritability, trouble sleeping, overly vigilance, heightened startled response)
- anxiety and panic attacks
- feeling a sense of unreality and detachment
Reading that list alone is exhausting. Can you imagine living it? For all too many new mothers, this list is a reality. In fact, there are 3 million cases a year in the U.S. alone. That math comes out to 1 in 7 new moms of all live births (this excludes still births and miscarriages) experiencing PPD and/or PPA within the U.S. From research however, we know that PPD doesn’t just occur within the U.S., but that it is a world wide issue. Thankfully for us, PPD began to get serious recognition in the 1980’s and because of that, more and more help continues to become available.
So those are the facts and symptoms about PMADs, but we wanted to take it a tad further and ask a few moms how they would describe their perinatal mood and anxiety disorder experiences.
“So much weight, and a weight that was never meant to be carried alone.” – Teshua B.
“To me it felt like everyone around me was out to get me and take my child away. I felt like running away with my baby.” – Laura A.
“I remember knowing in the pit of my stomach, not thinking, but knowing it would never get better, that I would never have hope.” – Mary Beth L.
“I felt like I had a defective “mom” gene…that something in me was fundamentally flawed and broken if I wasn’t feeling joy, love, tenderness…all the things you were “supposed” to feel as a new mom.” – Laura D.
“It was like a dark cloud hanging over me preventing me from feeling connected in any way to my son.” – Nicole K.
“Hopeless.” – Janet H.
“I never cried so much in my whole life, and I isolated myself from the outside world! I didn’t know what was going on at the time, I couldn’t explain to anyone what it was. I only found out it was PPD years later.” – Annette C.
Ladies, don’t be afraid to speak up and speak out. We have got to start vocalizing our experiences and listening to other’s. It’s time to put on our battle armor and fight this illness with everything we have. Let’s do it in community. In our community. Let’s shatter the silence.