Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders

What are Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders?

Perinatal mood & anxiety disorders refers to a group of disorders that includes depression, anxiety, panic, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bipolar disorder, that occur during pregnancy or the postpartum period. Men can also experience emotional difficulty before or after a baby is born.

Up to 80% of women feel sad or anxious during the first weeks after childbirth of a baby- it’s often called the “baby blues”. If these symptoms continue or become worse, a woman may be experiencing depression.  Depression and anxiety around the birth (or adoption) of a baby can affect up to 20% of mothers.

Although all women are susceptible to developing a mood or anxiety disorder around the birth of a baby, women who have one or more of the following factors have a moderate to significant increased risk:

  • Depression or anxiety during pregnancy
  • Stressful recent life events
  • Lack of social support (either a perceived lack of support or a real lack of support)
  • Personal and/or family history of mental illness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Being a “worrier” or having negative thinking styles
  • Poor relationship with partner or close family member

*This information has been adapted from Postpartum Depression: A guide for front line Health and Social Service Providers (2005) Ross, L., Dennis, C., Blackmore,E., and Stewart, D.

If you are concerned that you may be experiencing a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, you don’t have to suffer in silence. You’re not the only one who feels this way. There’s plenty of help available to you.