Let’s say you are in the high-risk category for developing a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder like postpartum depression. You have battled depression, anxiety, OCD, or bipolar throughout your lifetime, and you have been told that the major hormonal and identity shifts that occur during pregnancy and childbirth are likely to push you out of remission, aggravate your symptoms, or lead to even more mental health challenges than you have already faced, like psychosis perhaps. Maybe you are currently taking medicine and maybe you are not. Maybe you are willing to continue your medication while pregnant, and maybe you are not. Maybe you have already had a child and suffered with severe postpartum mental illness including psychosis and maybe you have not. But one thing is for sure: you desperately want a baby and you are scared to death about what this might mean for you. And for your child.
These are tough questions, and anyone who identifies with the above snapshot can attest to how unbearably complicated all of this can feel. Struggling with a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder when you didn’t see it coming is like a blow to the head that knocks you flat for a while. Thinking ahead and knowing that you are likely to struggle gives a mom the chance to plan ahead for support, but can also be downright terrifying.
Perinatal mental illness awareness is increasing, but the fact is that there are many highly skilled medical professionals out there who still are not up to date, informed, and knowledgeable about the many elements to consider when it comes to perinatal mental health. Women are told to not even consider having children due to mental illness when there may be safe ways to do so. Women are told to stop taking their medication during pregnancy when this is neither necessary nor safe. Women are given wrong information all the time, and life-changing decisions are made without adequate information. And this is a problem.
This is what we know, in no particular order: [Read more...]