10 common signs the “baby blues” may be a more serious mental health challenge

Posted on 01/06/23 11:21:am


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Pregnancy and childbirth are an exciting, and sometimes challenging, time of change. An estimated 70 to 80% of all new moms experience what’s commonly known as the “baby blues” – mood swings that include feelings of sadness, irritability, exhaustion, and overwhelm. Typically lasting only two weeks and resolving on its own, the “baby blues” are much less severe and persistent than a perinatal or postpartum mood and anxiety disorder, also known as PMAD.

“PMADs are the number one complication of pregnancy and childbirth, affecting up to 1 in 7 women in the U.S.,” says Ajeng Puspitasari, PhD, LP, ABPP, psychologist and clinical director at Rogers in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. “With PMAD, distressing feelings occur during and throughout the first year after pregnancy and severely impact daily functioning.”

Dr. Puspitasari shares 10 common signs of PMAD:

  1. Persistent sadness, anxiety, or an “empty” mood
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  3. Irritability
  4. Feeling guilty, worthless, hopeless, and helpless
  5. Fatigue or restlessness
  6. Difficulty concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
  7. Intrusive and frightening thoughts
  8. Difficulty sleeping
  9. Significant changes in appetite, weight, or both
  10. Thoughts about death, suicide, or harming oneself or the baby

“Left untreated, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders result in an increased risk of suicide and infanticide, poor attachment with the baby, and an increased risk of maternal health issues,” says Dr. Puspitasari. “Additional impacts on the child include low birth weight or preterm birth, less likelihood of being breast fed, increased risk of SIDS and behavioral and developmental disorders, increased likelihood of worse child health like injuries, asthma, fewer preventative visits, and obesity.”

Evidence-based help at Rogers for anxiety and depression

“Multidisciplinary teams led by board-certified psychiatrists provide evidence-based therapy to help patients struggling with anxiety and depression,” she says. “Our treatment is heavily based in cognitive behavioral therapy, which includes behavioral activation and exposure therapy. Our outcomes show our treatment works.”

If you or someone you love are experiencing anxietydepression or other mood disorders, call 800-767-4411 for inpatient, residential, or intensive outpatient care in Wisconsin, or intensive outpatient at all other Rogers locations.


Call 800-767-4411 or go to rogersbh.org to request a free screening.