Updated: Mar 18, 2021
When we think of postpartum mood issues, we normally think of depression. However, the world of perinatal mood is much broader than that.
Did you know that one out of every five to seven women will deal with perinatal mood disorder in her lifetime? When I heard that number, I thought two things: First, “Man! That is high.” Then, almost immediately, I thought, “I’ll bet it is actually higher than that.”
Let me pause for a definition. Perinatal mood disorders are “combinations of anxiety and depression, which have an onset from the time of conception to one year postpartum — these combinations cause distress and disruption of life in periods lasting longer than two weeks.” Possible forms of these disorders are depression (most well-known), anxiety, or OCD. In some cases, women develop a bipolar disorder or psychosis (although much less common) during this perinatal period, which is an unparalleled time of enormous emotional, hormonal, and biological change.
I will dive deeper into each of these disorders in later posts, but today I would like to make this point: Although PPD (Postpartum Depression) is the most well-known of the offenders, it is not the only one. Furthermore, it may not even be the most prevalent. (Spoiler alert — I think anxiety is.)
Here are five hidden symptoms of perinatal mood issues:
1. Feeling irritable — So often, anxiety’s surface emotion is anger or irritation. If this a common symptom in your life, take a look under the hood.
2. Shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, heaviness in chest, tingling, crawling out of skin feeling — Did you know that anxiety has physical symptoms? Sometimes, you can experience these without the mental/emotional parts in accompaniment.
3. Changes in eating or sleeping habits, surges of creativity or productivity, inability to relax.
4. A feeling of extreme fatigue or numbness.
5. A general feeling of being “off” — Sometimes, we can’t put our finger on it, but we (or our partner) can tell that something is just “not right.”
Now, the fact that you may be experiencing one or more of these symptoms does not mean that you are dealing with a mood disorder. (I was feeling irritable 20 minutes ago.). However, if symptoms such as these persist for several weeks, and you are unable to shake them loose with a healthy diet and some sunshine and exercise, take a closer look, and reach out for a helping hand.
Please hear my heart! Reach out for help if you are struggling. I battled postpartum OCD and poured over blog posts, looking for answers to the things I was feeling. Believe me, there is help out there. The wonderful thing about perinatal mood disorders is that, with help and support, in time, you will be well. I am proof of that. Without a doubt, there is a sisterhood that is waiting here to help.