Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders
​“Emotionally I am in pain. Mentally I am depressed. Spiritually I am stressed. Physically I smile.” 
Dani Holmes-Kirk


​Becoming pregnant and having a new baby is one of the biggest life transitions you will ever have; it is an exciting time, but can also bring on some unexpected feelings. As the quote above alludes to, you may be experiencing shame around not being completely overjoyed. You will have to adjust in many different ways to welcome your new baby into your life. Not only has your body gone through incredible changes over the last year, your daily patterns are now permanently changed in a very short time. You may find that people expect you to be blissful, but what if you’re not?

Remember, it is very important that you take care of yourself as much as you take care of your new baby.

Here are some facts to keep in mind:


Mood and Anxiety Disorders are the Number One Complication of the Perinatal Period
  • Between 14 – 23% of women suffer from some symptoms of depression during pregnancy
  • These symptoms may mistakenly be attributed to normal hormonal changes in pregnancy and can go undiagnosed.
  • The difference is that a change in hormones is a temporary state, in which your mood fluctuates. With depression and anxiety, you feel down the majority of the time and usually cannot find ways to lift it.
  • Catching and treatment mood and anxiety disorders in pregnancy can significantly decrease your risk of developing postpartum mood and anxiety disorders
  • What you may be experiencing:
    • Significant increase or decrease in appetite and/or sleep
    • Low energy
    • Poor concentration
    • Inability to care for yourself
    • Feelings of worthless or excessive guilt
    • Shame
    • Intrusive (unwanted) thoughts
    • Anxiety
    • Isolation
    • Irritability or anger
    • Unsafe thoughts – these are considered emergencies – please click here for immediate referrals
      • Thoughts of not wanting to be alive or thoughts of killing yourself
      • Thoughts of wanting to kill someone else
      • Thoughts not based in reality – delusions or psychosis

Baby Blues - normal changes in your hormone levels after giving birth that can cause depressive and anxiety like symptoms. Baby blues is NOT a mental health disorder.
  • What you may be experiencing:
    • Feelings of being overwhelmed
    • Insomnia
    • Feelings of inability to cope
    • Overly sensitive
    • Anxiety
    • Mood swings/irritability
    • Crying spells
  • Affects up to 80% of women with average onset during the first week post delivery
  • Symptoms peak between days 7 - 10
  • Duration - usually resolves on its own 2-3 weeks postpartum


​Often times referred to as “postpartum depression” or “postpartum” however it is known that many women experience anxiety alongside depression; and, in fact, the anxiety symptoms can be more distressing to them. Postpartum Psychosis is NOT the same as Postpartum Depression; 20% of mothers will experience a mood or anxiety disorder vs 0.1%-0.2% of mothers who will experience postpartum psychosis. Symptoms typically develop 2-3 months postpartum but can appear as late as one year postpartum

Post Weaning Blues 

If a woman is breastfeeding (providing breastmilk) this is the time when she stops nursing. The choice can be hers or it can be a decision that is made for her, which can complicate the process from a mood perspective. Post Weaning Blues is not unlike Baby Blues and has similar symptoms.
  • Thought to be caused by drop in hormones – Prolactin (required for milk production and creates a sense of wellbeing) and Oxytocin (required for milk expression and known as “love hormone”)
  • Usually resolves on its own within a few weeks
  • Not mental health disorder


​It’s easy to compare yourself to other moms, thinking that others do everything effortlessly, and are happy with their new baby every hour of every day. But, the fact is that you are not alone. Many moms have feelings of depression or anxiety during this time. It is okay to get help, and your getting help will lead to a healthier and more fulfilling relationship with your baby. Remember, struggling with mood and anxiety disorders during the perinatal period does not mean you’re a bad mom; it means you need support. There is hope that with the right support, you will feel better and find yourself again.