â€śSince getting pregnant, I have been feeling very anxious. I feel sad, lonely and weepy without any reason.â€ť
â€śI am pregnant, I stopped my medications!â€ť
â€śI am struggling. I am feeling overwhelmed. I donâ€™t know how long I can hold on for!â€ť
Anxiety and depression affect all ages and gender, however women during perinatal period are more likely to suffer depression. Perinatal period is defined as pregnancy and the first year post-delivery (also known as postpartum). This period is also the most common time for women to be admitted to an inpatient psychiatric facility. While it is common to have emotional dysregulation with hormonal changes during pregnancy, it is not OK to be constantly weepy, anxious, restless, sad, worried, or lost during the entire pregnancy. It is also common for women to experience baby blues (anxious, stressed, tearful, lonely, sad, and irritable) after childbirth. However, these should improve within the first two weeks of childbirth. If these symptoms persist for a longer period of time, then it requires attention from a medical/psychiatric provider.
Perinatal mental disorders are the No. 1 pregnancy and childbirth complication. One in every seven women can experience perinatal mental disorder. Perinatal mental health and substance use disorders are the leading causes of maternal mortality. Untreated perinatal mental health results in poor prenatal care; increased substance use and smoking; suicide attempts; leading cause of maternal mortality; persistent or recurrent long term mood disorders â€“ unipolar or bipolar; pregnancy complications; gestational weight retention; lactational difficulties. While these mental health issues affect mother, they also affect the baby. It can result in preterm birth, low birth weight; increased dysregulation, irritability, crying; malnutrition, stunted growth; sleep difficulties; cognitive, emotional, and developmental delays; internalizing disorders; externalizing disorders; and eventually adolescent depression/anxiety which most likely will continue into adulthood.
Risk factors: previous experience of anxiety or depression; change in hormone levels, family history of mental illness, stress involving new life changes and caring for a newborn, isolation and lack of social support, financial support, employment, emotional stressors, baby with special needs, and difficult childbirth.
How to get help: Reach out to a medical provider â€“ your primary care provider (PCP) or your gynecologist (OBGYN) or your childâ€™s pediatrician or a psychiatric provider or a therapist; talk about your feelings with your loved ones, friends, and family; get some help with taking care of the baby; get enough rest and sleep; cut down on less important tasks and activities; join support groups for mothers.
Having perinatal mental disorder is not your fault. It is treatable. Early detection and treatment make all the difference. Seek help as soon as you notice any symptoms. It can get worse without any treatment. Most important, â€śBe kind to yourself!â€ť
National Hopeline Network
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (offers 24 hour support)
800-273-TALK (8255). Chat options also available at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org .
211 or 211.org
Crisis Text Line
www.crisistextline.org or text HOME to 741741
In case of an emergency or crisis, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
Khushboo Surti, MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC, Dorota Urban, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, are board certificate nurse practitioners working at outpatient Bristol Health Medical Group Psychiatric Services located at 10 North Main St, Bristol. For an appointment or additional information, please call 860-314-2052 or visit www.bristolhealth.org