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What’s the difference between PMADS and Post-partum Depression? PMADS is the term that is used to encompass a variety of mental health disorders that can occur during pregnancy and after delivery. In addition to depression, women can experience anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder and in rare cases psychosis. PMADS affect 15-20% of all pregnant and new mothers. Thirty percent of PMADS had a pre-existing mood disorder. 

“Baby Blues” occurs in up to 80% of new moms but it differs from postpartum depression in that it usually resolves around 2-3 weeks post-partum. While someone’s mood may be sad, irritable, or fluctuate, the main difference is that “Baby Blues” does not affect functioning. Although perinatal/post-partum depression is common it is NOT normal. It has all the usual symptoms related to depression including suicidal thoughts. (Please check out the “depression” tab under individual therapy services for a list of symptoms of depression.) Perinatal depression lasts more than 2 weeks and can begin during pregnancy and persist up to two years postpartum. It is interesting to know that 1 in 10 dads/partners experience perinatal depression as well.

When is it an Emergency?

  • Signs of postpartum psychosis, i.e., hallucinations, delusional beliefs, disorganized behavior, rapidly changing moods.

  • Any thoughts involving a plan of suicide.

  • Any urges to harm the baby or someone else.

Common Treatment Approaches

  • Therapy from a mental health professional who specializes in treating the perinatal period.

  • Social support including support groups.

  • Medication prescribed by a professional who specializes in PMADS.

What can you do to HELP:

  • Ask her if she is okay.

  • Are there risk factors?

  • Help her find support or take her to the doctor/OBGYN/therapist.

  • Use empathic communication, reflective listening.

  • Normalize the issue, NOT the symptoms.

  • Contact PHA (Postpartum Health Alliance) warmline (619) 254-0023.

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