Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) are common, treatable, and can occur at any time during pregnancy or in the first year after pregnancy (also known as the perinatal period). As many as one in five women suffer from symptoms of depression and/or anxiety in the perinatal period. PMADs are the leading complication associated with pregnancy and childbirth, and women are more likely to develop depression and anxiety around the time of childbirth than at any other time in their lives. Screening for PMADs in medical practices is an important step in identifying women in need of treatment.
PMADs include a spectrum of emotional distress- depression, anxiety, Bipolar disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and, rarely, psychosis. Symptoms before and during pregnancy are one of the leading predictors that a woman may experience mood or anxiety disorders postpartum. Additionally, there is emerging evidence that fathers, partners and non-gestational caregivers such as foster or adoptive parents are also at risk of experiencing mood or anxiety disorders due to the stress of caring for a new baby. Untreated PMADs can have serious impacts on maternal health and well-being, as well as long-lasting impacts on the children’s and family’s mental and physical health.
Help Me Grow (HMG) is a free service for all prenatal parents and families with young children through age eight. HMG has child development specialists on staff that can provide information and referrals to local & statewide agencies & programs, provide developmental monitoring and screening, and offer care coordination among multiple service delivery systems. HMG has recently expanded services to include assisting women and families in getting connected with additional support during the perinatal period. Pregnant & postpartum caregivers and families who are seeking help in finding and accessing mental health clinicians with specialized expertise and/or training in PMADs can call Help Me Grow for free assistance at 211, option 6 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Providers working with pregnant women and families who are experiencing PMADs can also make a direct referral by calling or completing an online referral form.
Medical providers in need of free consultation and education regarding PMADs are encouraged to contact the Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Consultation Service at the University of Vermont Medical Center at (802) 847-4758.
The Vermont Department of Health and the Department of Mental Health are partnering on the Screening, Treatment, & Access for Mothers & Perinatal Partners grant (STAMPP), a 5-year cooperative agreement funded by HRSA to help expand perinatal mental health services in Vermont. To access VDH’s website, click here.