What Every New Parent Should Know

You are not alone.

1 in 7 women experience a mood or anxiety disorder during pregnancy
or in the postpartum period.

You are not to blame.

You did not cause this. There is a strong biological component to how you are feeling.

You will get better!

Treatment is available in your area.

Find out more

What is Happening?

What is a Perinatal Mood or Anxiety Disorder?

"My baby was sleeping. My partner was sleeping. I was sobbing."

Many women experience shifts in their emotions during their pregnancy and after childbirth. These range from mild to severe and, together, are called perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD's). PMAD's are caused by:

  • changes in hormones
  • the physical toll of labor and delivery
  • not getting enough sleep
  • the mental and physical stress of caring for a newborn. 

These mood disorders are commonly known as pregnancy anxiety, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and the like. The most common types are explained below. It is important to know that this is not your fault and with help, you will get better. 

Types of Mood Disorders


Baby Blues

 60-80% of new moms will have the baby blues, or mild depression mixed with happier feelings. This "emotional roller coaster" usually begins 2-3 days postpartum and may include: 

  • Sadness/crying spells
  • Fatigue/exhaustion
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling nervous/anxious
  • Trouble coping

The baby blues last no more than 2 weeks.  

Pregnancy/Postpartum Depression

10-20% of women will experience depression in pregnancy, 50-80% with previous Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMAD) and/or after childbirth. Symptoms include those in the baby blues, plus: 

  • Anger, fear, and/or feelings of guilt
  • Thoughts of inadequacy as a person/mother
  • Appetite changes
  • Cloudy thinking/trouble making decisions
  • Feeling isolated from others or disconnected from the baby
  • Possible suicidal thoughts
  • Overwhelmed
  • Sadness/Tearfulness 
  • Excessive worry

Pregnancy/Postpartum Panic Anxiety

Up to 6% of pregnant and 10% of postpartum women will experience an anxiety disorder. These include: 

Pregnancy/Postpartum panic disorder with symptoms like: 

  • Feeling very nervous, worried or afraid.
  • Recurring panic attacks (shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations).

Pregnancy/Postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), with symptoms like

  • Obsessions (intense thoughts or mental images about the baby).
  • Compulsions (doing things over and over to reduce fears or obsessions).
  • A sense of horror about the obsessions. 

Postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), after childbirth, with symptoms like: 

  • Re-experiencing the traumatic birth experience (nightmares, flashbacks).
  • Numbing behaviors (trying not to think/talk about it). 
  • High arousal (anxiety, fear, exaggerated startle response).

Postpartum Psychosis

 1-2 of every 1,000 women will experience sudden psychotic symptoms, usually within the first two weeks. This requires immediate hospitalization to protect the mother and baby. Symptoms include:

  • Delusions (strange beliefs) and/or hallucinations (seeing/hearing things)
  • Extreme irritability, agitation and trouble sleeping
  • Sudden mood or personality changes with poor decision-making

Some of these symptoms can also show signs in paternal PMAD's. Please be sure to also visit our resource page for Fathers/Partners.  

What Can I Do?

Treatment Options

Help is available for PMAD's and with help, you will be well. The most common treatment methods include: 

  • Support groups for pregnancy/postpartum.
  • Individual, couples or family therapy.
  • Medication, in some cases.

The best treatment is usually a combination of these. 

Self Help

If you are experiencing mood disorders including postpartum depression, the following things can help:

  • Sleep - sleep when baby sleeps or find someone to care for baby so you can nap or sleep at night.
  • Exercise - mild to moderate activity, like walking, is good for your body and mind.
  • Eat - nutritious foods rich in protein can give you energy.
  • Talk - with a friend, family member or counselor, talk about how you feel.
  • Accept help - give yourself permission to do less and let help in. 
  • Take time for you - even 10-15 minutes a day helps.
  • Give yourself credit for all you do - you're doing more than you think!

Take the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale that can help you understand your current state.

When Self Help is Not Enough

If your  symptoms worsen or interfere with your daily life, please contact us. Volunteers who have "been there" are ready to offer support and resources. 

Please call the Arizona Warmline @ 888-434-MOMS(6667) or email @ azwarmline@gmail.com

Remember, "You are not alone."