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PMADs 101

Updated: Jun 24, 2021

What are “PMADs” & What Happened to “Postpartum Depression”?!

I would bet most people have heard of the term postpartum depression (PPD), but have you ever heard of PMADs? We once referred to PMADs as postpartum depression, however, postpartum depression captures only one aspect of PMADs – depression or sadness after having a baby. We have learned that it is more than just depression and symptoms can also occur during pregnancy as well as postpartum (the first year after giving birth).

PMADs stands for perinatal mood & anxiety disorders

  • Perinatal – in pregnancy or postpartum period

  • Mood – depression, bipolar, psychosis

  • Anxiety – generalized anxiety disorder, panic, OCD, PTSD

  • Disorders – get in the way of daily functioning

Who do PMADs Impact & How Common are They?

PMADs do not discriminate and can impact anyone. Fathers, partners, and even adoptive parents can experience PMADs. They affect as many as 1 out of 5 women and 1 out of 10 men. PMADs are the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth.

Risk & Exacerbating Factors for PMADs?

Evidence based risk factors of PMADs include:

  • Psychiatric history: family or personal history of previous PMADs, family or personal history of depression, anxiety, OCD, eating disorder, bipolar disorder, etc., history of childhood sexual abuse

  • Significant mood reactions to hormonal changes: during pregnancy estrogen and progesterone reach extremely high levels and then plummet after baby is born. At the same time, other hormones increase while breastfeeding and change again when breastfeeding ends. Some women are more sensitive to these changes.

  • Endocrine Dysfunction: diabetes, history of thyroid imbalance, fertility challenges.

  • Social factors: inadequate support, interpersonal violence, relationship stress, financial stress, recent loss or move, institutional racism, barriers to care.

Exacerbating Factors:

  • Complications in pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.

  • Health challenges in baby or parents

  • Age-related stressors: adolescent, perimenopause

  • Perfectionism/high expectations

How Can a New Mom Tell if She is Struggling with PMADs?

If the transition to motherhood comes with significant difficulty, not feeling like yourself, and symptoms listed above then she could be struggling with PMADs. Unfortunately, there is no blood test to determine a diagnosis but there are some screening tools to assess a woman’s symptoms.

Can Someone Recover from PMADs?

YES! With the proper treatment and care, one can recover from PMADs. Here are some tips for recovering:

  • Self-care - sleep, nutrition, exercise, taking a break

  • Talk therapy – individual therapy with a trained professional (sometimes couples therapy & group therapy are also recommended)

  • Social support – talking to friends and family. Joining a support group.

  • Medication – if necessary

If you can relate to anything in this post and are wondering if maybe you are struggling with PMADs, please don’t hesitate to reach out and get the support you deserve. You don’t need to suffer in silence anymore. Contact me today:


Postpartum Support International Hotline: 1-800-944-4773

Stay tuned for a future post where I go into further details on the signs and symptoms of PMADs, diagnosing, and healthy coping strategies to manage symptoms.

Have a great day 😊

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