Health professionals play an important role in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of Perinatal Mood Disorders (PMDs).

 

The prenatal and postpartum periods are times of increased risk for the onset of mood disorders. Mood disorders can range from depression or anxiety during pregnancy, early postpartum blues to postpartum psychosis, a serious mental health condition. Within this range is postpartum depression (PPD), a major depressive disorder that can occur at any time within the first year following the birth or adoption of a baby. Recent studies show that anxiety is just as common, or more so than depression in the postpartum period.

Research shows that 1 in 5 women experience a PMD and rates increase for adolescents and new immigrant mothers. When left untreated it can have detrimental effects on the health and well-being of women, children and family members.

Prenatal depression is the greatest risk factor for PMDs. More information about Toronto Public Health’s prenatal programs.

Risk factors to be aware of:

  • personal history of depression or mental illness
  • depression in pregnancy
  • social isolation
  • stressful life events
  • history of abuse or trauma

Symptoms:

  • dysphoria
  • emotional lability
  • insomnia
  • confusion
  • anxiety
  • guilt
  • suicidal thoughts

It is important to explore the mother’s knowledge and understanding of what she is experiencing, and in consultation with the mother, educate her partner and family members by providing them with coping strategies to support her and themselves.

Treatment options may include:

  • self-care practices, including eating well, making time for sleep, getting support from others and being active can alleviate symptoms, along with appropriate medical and psychological intervention
  • psychotherapy (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Interpersonal Psychotherapy)
  • non-directive counselling
  • medication
  • referral to Toronto Public Health services