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Dr. Patrick McGrath’s Blog

Perinatal Difficulties


    Not just post partum depression and not just for women…

    I just attended the Perinatal Support International Conference in San Diego (great town and great seafood). I wanted to give a few suggestions to families who are expecting or who have given birth, adopted a child, or lost a child.

    1. Not every pregnancy or birth or adoption is a wonderful experience for people. In fact, a child joining your family is actually a significant stressor and can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression.
    2. The experience of pregnancy, birth, or adoption (PBA) can be difficult both mentally and physically. While we are often comfortable talking about physical difficulties that we may have, the unseen mental health complications from PBA can be amazingly significant.
    3. PBA can bring joy to people’s lives. It can also lead to depression, psychosis, or anxiety. It can lead to suicidal or homicidal thoughts, feelings, or even actions.
    4. While we may be quick to judge the actions of individuals who have postpartum psychosis, I beg us all to have compassion for them. I do not know of anyone who has had postpartum psychosis who, years after committing an act of violence, still thinks that their violent act was a good choice.
    5. There are so many people out there who hide their uncomfortable feelings and thoughts about PBA, fearing that they are bad people for having intrusive thoughts about harming themselves or their children.
    6. There is help available to people who are suffering after PBA. This goes for men as well as women. Believe me, this is not just a female problem. Men can also experience significant levels of depression or anxiety after PBA.
    7. Reach out to a group like Perinatal Support International and talk to someone who can help you deal with the thoughts that you are experiencing. Let them get you set up with a provider in their network who will be able to assist you through the process of challenging your anxiety, depression, or psychosis.
    8. There are now several programs that are designed specifically for individuals who are mentally suffering after PBA. Some, like the one I have the privilege to work with, even allow you to bring your baby with you.
    9. Know this – you are not alone and there is help available. You do not have to be isolated in this.