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Perinatal Mood Disorders -- it's Not Just Postpartum Depression

Updated: Aug 20, 2022

This week at work we had a meeting about addressing Perinatal Mood Disorders with our postpartum patients prior to discharge. It feels like a step long overdue, but well-needed! Most of my fellow nurses seemed generally devoted to this topic, likely because it is so relatable. Statistically, many of us who have given birth before have experienced at least some form of “Baby Blues.” All of the symptoms, all of the feelings, I imagine, every parent has felt some at some point.

There are many misconceptions about perinatal mood disorders and these illnesses very often go undiagnosed. What birthing people need to know most is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! This is so much more common than you realize. It doesn’t always mean a full, psychotic breakdown and we should be catching these symptoms far before that point.

Most people have heard of Postpartum Depression and have a general idea that it involves feelings to harm their child or themselves. In reality, there are a wide range of illnesses that span through pregnancy, up to a year after childbirth.

  • Pregnancy and Postpartum Depression

  • Pregnancy and Postpartum Anxiety

  • Pregnancy and Postpartum OCD

  • PTSD

  • Bipolar

  • Postpartum Psychosis - This is ALWAYS a medical emergency

Did you also know that perinatal mood disorders do not only effect birthing parents? These illnesses can be seen in non-birthing parents as well and may or may not have some different symptoms. Please read more about the signs, symptoms, risk factors and types of different mood disorders here

Becoming a parent for the first time, or adding another member to the family is HARD. It changes everything about your life, it limits your sleep, changes family dynamics, can change your self-esteem, can alter your career plans, changing body image. The list goes on and on, your life as you once knew it is fundamentally changed forever. On top of all of the exterior changes, you have hormones that are on a rollercoaster! Some are plummeting, while others are sky-rocketing.


How we can help

There are many ways that a postpartum RN or doula can help you navigate these feelings and ease the symptoms of a perinatal disorder:

  • Provide a listening ear to let you vent and release stressors

  • Help make sure you are properly nourished by bringing snacks and waters while you rest, grocery shopping or light meal prep

  • Care for your baby so you can take a shower, get the rest you need and have time for self-care

  • Help with light house work, doing laundry, cleaning dishes, so you have more time to take care of yourself and bond with baby

  • Help to make a plan for dividing responsibilities through caretakers

  • Provide resources for support in the community and online

  • An extra set of eyes and ears to note if you should contact your MD or therapist

You are not alone, this is not your fault and it is treatable! Treatment options include therapy, support groups and medications that are safe regardless of infant feeding preferences.



Postpartum Support International Helpline: 1-800-944-4773, text 503-894-9453 or visit online:

Postpartum Support International Facebook groups

Postpartum Support International Online support groups at

Postpartum Support International Provider Directory

And of course, if you feel like you are experiencing symptoms of any peripartum mood disorder, please call your provider! If you are having any thoughts at all about harming yourself or anyone else, go immediately to the nearest emergency department. Help is out there and you deserve it.


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