Post-Partum Depression, Perinatal Mood Disorders And Anxiety Oh My!

Several years ago a friend of mine had a baby while we were both in nurse practitioner school. She had a typical first pregnancy, labor and delivery. I visited the family several times in the hospital and bonding appeared to be going just fine. In the few weeks that followed the birth things began to unravel. Breastfeeding was not going well, she wasn’t feeling like herself and even her husband called to appeal for help. During a light moment, we laughed about how “we of all people” trained in women’s health had no idea what to do to make things better.

And then I stopped laughing.

  • Between 10-15 percent of mothers will have postpartum depression within the first year after giving birth (CDC)
  • Pregnant women are more likely to die from suicide than most other common complications of pregnancy (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
  • You or someone close to you is pregnant right now or are new parents

Watch on the Vimeo Channel or listen on the iTunes podcast as Adrienne Griffen and I have a state of the union of sorts about perinatal mood disorders (post-partum depression and anxiety). Adrienne is the President and Founder of Postpartum Support Virginia which provides social support, advocacy and education for women and families who are dealing with the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth—postpartum depression and anxiety.

As always there are two interviews available on the Vimeo Channel. The shorter one answers four questions:

  1. What is the problem that you are trying to fix?
  2. Why did you choose your route as a solution?
  3. What was the turning point for you? Why did you decide you needed to start doing what you are doing today?
  4. What are some real tangible tips that you would give to people trying to get a project off of the ground today?

You’ll have to excuse the occasional Skype delays but I highly recommend you watch it.  They are so worth the professional and personal stories that Adrienne shares.

She articulates what it takes to DO SOMETHING about postpartum depression, anxiety and other trials and tribulations of becoming parents.

Adrienne makes a very important point…after surveying Virginia for three years she couldn’t find anyone delivering services in a comprehensive manner. Virginia has one of the highest income per capita communities in the US.

The Deep Dive gets to the nitty gritty of what it takes to make a difference in the health care sector. Because I don’t want you to miss her pearls of wisdom I made you cheat sheet (aka roadmap) of the Deep Dive so if you are short on time you can skip to a particular pearl that interests you.

Deep Dive Roadmap

  • Right off the bat-Board Selection—How do you choose a board for your non-profit—especially a founding board?
  • Min 4:20—How she dealt with an environmental scan in Virginia led that  showed that nobody was delivering services to new mothers and families.
  • Min 5:20- A story about skeptic doc who felt like trying to help Latinas with PPD is a waste of time because “they have so many problems”
  • Min 7:00- Expectations, Birth Experiences and Breast Feeding, issues of women Adrienne helps
  • Min 8:20- Sad story of a cascade of birth emergencies and interventions to save a woman’s life led to unexpected breastfeeding problems (she was given a med that dried up her milk and wasn’t told that was a side effect) and you guessed it—ended up with PPD
  • Min 10:00- What we can do to head this off at the pass and Why Advice falls on deaf ears
  • Min 11:55-Medication Risks and Benefits
  • Min 15:15- Stigma Association with PPD
  • Min 16:58-Adrienne’s take on what National Orgs can do better
  • Min 21:35- Wraps up with–Her hopes for the future

 Resource Links

Postpartum Support Virginia—Adrienne’s org

Postpartum Support International (PSI)—if you are interested in volunteering in your state ro would like more information about perinatal mood disorders

Marce Society for Perinatal Mental Health

Postpartum Progress Warrior Mom Katherine Stone provides a great resource

Life After Benjamin Alana Sheeren provides a wonderful resource for those who have lost a child or are dealing with other grief issues

Science & Sensibility A research blog about  healthy pregnancy, birth and beyond in plain English

4 thoughts on “Post-Partum Depression, Perinatal Mood Disorders And Anxiety Oh My!

  1. More needs to be explored about alternatives to medications for treating PMADs. Research shows that 50% of our target population does not want to take psychatric medications. That reluctance impacts their decision-making in many ways. Some women will not seek help at all because they think meds are their only option. WellPostpartum Consulting offers non-pharmacological methods to women and training for providers nationwide at WellPostpartum E-News is a source of information at

  2. I’ve been dealing with a depressive disorder for almost two years ever since my spouse Dan died, and one of the ways I’ve tried to recover is by finding out as much about depression as I can. I’m presently leading a discussion group for women who are suffering depression, and I came upon your post while searching for materials to talk about in this thursday’s meeting. I don’t know how it works for other people, but for me, awareness is empowering, and the more I learn the nearer I get to feeling normal again.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts I am 10 months post-partum and have been experiencing symptoms of Post-Partum Depression for some time now. I went in the other day to talk to my OBGYN about it and she wanted to test my Thyroids through blood work. Why is this?

  4. This is from WebMD:
    Levels of hormones, such as those produced by the thyroid gland, can be factors in depression. In addition, some symptoms of depression are associated with thyroid conditions. The same is true about conditions related to the menstrual cycle, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), perimenopause, and menopause.

    Because there is this connection between depression symptoms and other medical conditions, blood tests are often ordered to avoid a misdiagnosis. It is important to note that you can have both depression and thyroid conditions at the same time. It is also possible to have depression and menstruation-related symptoms.

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