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About PMD

The entire period of pregnancy up to one year after delivery is described as the perinatal period. Many physical and emotional changes occur before and after giving birth. Most women experience mixed and often contradictory feelings, which gradually diminish as they settle into the new routines of motherhood.

Some women, however, experience sadness, anxiety, depression, frustration and other disturbing emotions. When these symptoms persist and a mood disorder develops, professional help is often necessary.

What is a perinatal mood disorder?

Between 10 percent and 20 percent of women develop a mood disorder during the perinatal period. Initially, research and reporting focused on postpartum depression (PPD) associated with the period after pregnancy (thus postpartum), but behavioral scientists have since learned that many of these disorders may occur during pregnancy (antepartum).

Mood disorders cause distress and adversely affect daily functioning and personal relationships. If left untreated, they can have long-term, adverse effects on the baby. Fortunately, effective treatment is readily available.

Symptoms range from mild to severe. Early diagnosis is important, so women need to know the signs and symptoms of perinatal mood disorders. Husbands, partners, friends and family members can help. Often, they recognize a problem even before the woman herself.

A perinatal mood disorder is not a sign of personal weakness or a character flaw. It does not mean a woman is incapable of being a good mother. Many brave women have come forward to share their experiences with PPD and other perinatal mood disorders to reduce the social stigma and encourage others to ask for help.

What Causes Perinatal Mood Disorders?

The exact causes are unknown. Here are some factors that may contribute:

  • Changes in hormone levels
  • A difficult pregnancy
  • A difficult birth
  • Medical problems (mother or baby)
  • Lack of sleep
  • Feeling alone
  • Perceived loss of freedom
  • Sudden changes in routines
  • Personal or family history of depression
  • Prior experience with PPD or other perinatal mood disorders
  • Life stressors such as illness or financial problems

Who Is at Risk?

Perinatal Mood Disorders can affect any woman of any age, race or economic background who:

  • Is pregnant
  • Has recently had a baby
  • Has ended a pregnancy or miscarried
  • Has stopped breastfeeding


All perinatal mood disorders are treatable. Read more about treatment options.

Perinatal mood disorders are treatable. But first you have to ask for help.

call the helpline 24/7 at


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Last Modified: Thursday, 12-Jul-12 11:44:32