Finally, there is hope.
The California pharmacist Jasmine began to suffer from anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure, a few weeks after the birth of her baby in the spring of 2019. This symptom had been covered in her academic coursework.
The memory of thinking, “Oh my gosh, that’s what this feels like,” comes back to her. “Nothing made anyone feel anything. There was a general sense of emptiness and numbness. There was no discernible flavor. For some reason, I always thought that experiencing pain would serve as a constant reminder that I was alive. Both “What is existence?” and “Why am I here?” crossed my mind.
For Jasmine, as for many moms, the transition to parenthood was challenging. She was surrounded by mothers who seemed to have it all together, but she was also sleep-deprived and having trouble breastfeeding. After going almost two days without rest, her mood deteriorated. “How can I mother if I can’t sleep?” she worried. “Would my child be better off without me?” she wondered at some point.
The pregnancy that Jasmine and her husband finally achieved took more than a year. “I thought this was going to be the most joyous time of my life,” she remarks. Quite the contrary, in fact.
The mental health illness that Jasmine was dealing with and eventually overcame was postpartum depression (PPD), which is prevalent, curable, and stigmatized.
Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) are a group of illnesses that include PPD. Postpartum depression (PPD), postpartum anxiety (PPA), and postpartum psychosis are all part of the relatively new umbrella term that represents a variety of mental health issues that may arise during and after pregnancy, as well as in the first year after giving birth.
PMADs is a decent acronym to know, particularly if you live in the US. The United States has the highest maternal death rate among industrialized nations, which is causing a crisis in maternal health. One in five to one in seven (or perhaps more) new moms experience postpartum depression and anxiety disorders (PMADs), making them the most prevalent complication of delivery in our nation. In the United States, the primary underlying cause of maternal mortality is mental health issues, including suicide. Furthermore, compared to white women, Black moms had three times the risk of dying during pregnancy, a higher risk of postpartum depression, and a lower likelihood of seeking treatment.
Tragedies involving the mental health of mothers, such as infanticide and suicide, get more media attention than they deserve.
Every loss is tragic, but perinatal medicine experts can assure you that prematurity-related anxiety disorders (PMADs) are curable, and that tragedies involving maternal mental health are avoidable.
However, many women still suffer in isolation and humiliation from their mental health issues due to a lack of research, knowledge, provider skills, and support, as well as American culture’s centuries-long practice of ignoring the challenges of new motherhood.
The fact is that no single mother should have to deal with postpartum depression. The chair of the psychiatry department at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH, says that people need to view these issues as common and treatable, just like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or any perinatal period complication.
There’s still a long way to go, but at last there’s movement in an area where innovation has been waiting too long: from politicians to physicians and beyond.
An Introduction to Everything Anti-aging drugs:
We must first discuss PMADs if we are to find a way to treat them. The following are often thought of being PMADs:
- Depression during and after pregnancy
- Pregnancy and postpartum depression
- Condition known as postpartum PTSD
- Psychosis after childbirth
I wanted to clarify that PMADs are not the same as the baby blues, which are feelings of melancholy, weeping, and irritation that up to 80% of new moms go through in the first two to three weeks after giving birth. As time goes by, the baby blues go away. You begin to settle into a routine. Things may still be tough (you are a new parent, after all), but you won’t experience their full impact for months.
In contrast, postpartum depression symptoms are widespread, make it hard to function normally or care for yourself or your baby, and last longer than the first two or three weeks after giving birth.
Medical professionals have discovered risk factors for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMAD), however the exact reasons remain unknown. This is according to Catherine Birndorf, MD, a reproductive psychiatrist and creator of The Motherhood Center, a facility that treats PMADs.
Postpartum hormonal changes, such as a decrease in estrogen and progesterone, among others, may amplify the occurrence of PMADs. Additional elements include preexisting mental health issues, present life situations, and prior experiences, such as trauma or miscarriage. Factors that increase the likelihood of postpartum depression include, but are not limited to, high levels of stress, an absence of social support, abuse, interpersonal problems, and inadequate or nonexistent paid leave. “It’s not simply about biology, hormones, and neurotransmitters,” remarks Karen Kleiman, MSW, founder of The Postpartum Stress Center. “The complexities of this image are not lost on us.”
On the other hand, diagnosis might be challenging due to the formal definition of PMADs. Mental health issues experienced by mothers are still not adequately addressed in several psychiatry residency programs. Also, according to Postpartum Support International’s Wendy Davis, PhD, who is in charge of the organization’s mother-support programs, the majority of specialists in the field consider PMADs to begin “anytime during pregnancy and the first year postpartum, including after perinatal loss.” However, as an example, PPD is included in the DSM-5, the “bible” of psychiatric illnesses, as depression that begins during pregnancy or the first four weeks after giving birth.
There have been significant strides in the field of perinatal mental health, but it is still not often discussed or included in routine treatment for pregnant and postpartum individuals in the United States. Because of this, it is not always easy for moms or even their healthcare experts to tell what’s wrong.
These circumstances, however, were completely out of the question for quite some time.