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Facts about PMD

Postpartum Mood Disorders include a range of conditions that occur anytime during pregnancy or in the first year after the birth of a baby.

1 in 5 mothers experience Postpartum Mood Disorders.

PMD is not anyone’s fault. Recovery takes time.

It’s important to get help early.

1) How do I know if my wife or partner is suffering from blues or a Postpartum Mood Disorder (PMD)?

  • Baby Blues are very common and affect about 80% of new mothers. Blues include feeling sad, irritable, or overwhelmed. Mothers may be crying and may not be able to sleep or eat. Blues typically start about 3 to 4 days after the birth and slowly go away in about 1 or 2 weeks. Blues do not need treatment, but moms do need support, encouragement, and a helping hand.
  • If the blues do not disappear after 1 to 2 weeks or get worse, it may be Postpartum Mood Disorder (PMD).
  • Postpartum Mood Disorders are the most common complication of giving birth. One in five women (20%) will experience some form of Postpartum Mood Disorder after the birth of a baby. Sometimes these disorders are called Perinatal Mood Disorders, which means the symptoms start while the mom is pregnant or after she has the baby.
  • Some moms develop symptoms when she is still pregnant, which is called Antenatal Depression.
  • Moms who adopt a baby are also at risk of developing a type of PMD which is sometimes called Post Adoption Depression.

Here are some other terms you may hear. These are also types of Postpartum Mood Disorders:

  • Perinatal Depression
  • Postpartum Depression (PPD)
  • Postpartum Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Bipolar II
  • Postpartum Psychosis

2) What are the symptoms of PMD?

Women with Postpartum Depression can have a variety of symptoms which usually last for at least 2 weeks. She may:

  • Not feel like herself
  • Be sad and tearful
  • Feel exhausted, but unable to sleep
  • Have changes in her eating or sleeping patterns
  • Feel overwhelmed and unable to concentrate or focus
  • Have no interest or pleasure in activities she used to enjoy
  • Feel hopeless, frustrated, restless, irritable or angry
  • Feel guilty, ashamed, or think she is not a good mother
  • Not be bonding with her baby or feel scared to be alone with your baby

**If your partner talks about harming herself or the baby, or has repeated scary thoughts about the baby, contact your Health Care Provider or go to the Emergency Department at your local hospital RIGHT AWAY***

Women with Postpartum Anxiety may have some symptoms of depression, but may also:

  • Experience heart palpitations, chest pain or dizziness
  • Feel high and full of energy
  • Feel restless, irritable or angry
  • Experience obsessions and compulsions: repetitive thoughts or actions (e.g. repeated and excessive handwashing), feeling driven to have things a certain way (e.g. insisting clothes/diapers are folded and put away in a certain way)
  • Take frequent trips to the doctor with concerns about the baby
  • Fear she will cause harm to the baby

Postpartum Psychosis is very rare. It normally begins 48 to 72 hours after the birth of the baby. Women usually experience delusions, hallucinations (e.g. seeing or hearing things that are not there), disorganized speech and behaviour or confusion. Women with Postpartum Psychosis often have thoughts about harming themselves or their baby. This is a serious illness with risks to the mother and baby and requires IMMEDIATE medical attention. Get help right away.

3) What causes PMD?

The cause of PMD is not fully understood. Pregnancy and the birth or adoption of a child causes physical, emotional and social changes for both parents. Research has shown that hormonal changes, lack of support, stress, a history of depression or a family history of depression, and the demands of becoming a new parent may all play a part in a parent developing PMD.