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Women's Clinic - Symptoms, Disorders and Risk Factors

Anxiety Disorders

  • Rates of anxiety are more common in the perinatal period then non perinatal population and can co-exist with depression 
  • Up to 8.5 per cent of women will develop an anxiety disorder in the perinatal period
  • Signs and symptoms vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder
  • Most common perinatal anxiety disorders are general anxiety disorder, panic attack, obsessive compulsive disorder

Most common symptoms:

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Excessive worry, fear and distress often over the pregnancy, deliver, fetus/baby.
  • Distressful recurrent unwelcomed thoughts or ideas 
  • Coping  and social functioning difficulties

Postpartum psychosis

  • Symptoms most often appear with 72 hours to four weeks after delivery
  • Postpartum psychosis is an emergency, hospitalization is required
  • Women with history of postpartum psychosis have grate then 50 per cent chance of re-developing
  • Rare (approx. 1-2 cases per 1000 live births) 

Symptoms can include:

  • Thinking and acting in unusual ways
  • Hallucinating or having strange thoughts, for example that their baby is evil
  • Feeling paranoid or thinking others want to  harm them
  • Believing  they have special powers 

Bipolar Disorder in the Perinatal Period

  •  There is no evidence of an increased chance of developing bipolar disorder during pregnancy
  • Women with Bipolar Disorder are at a higher risk of experiencing manic or depressive episodes in the perinatal period
  • There is an increased risk of the development of bipolar disorder in the postpartum period for women with a personal and or family history of a mood disorder or postpartum psychosis 
  • The rate of postpartum psychosis for women with untreated Bipolar Disorder is 10 to 20 per cent

Risk Factors

Many risk factors for developing mood and/or anxiety during pregnancy or the postpartum period have been identified. 

Major risk factors:

  • Current diagnosis of depression or anxiety or past history
  • History of perinatal depression or anxiety
  • Family history of depression, anxiety or psychiatric illness (especially during pregnancy or postpartum)

Other contributing risk factors:

  • Lack of social support 
  • Life stress – recent move, poor relationships, losses
  • Language issues
  • Domestic violence
  • Excessive anxiety during pregnancy
  • Unintended pregnancy
  • Ambivalence towards the pregnancy
  • Financial stress
  • Smoking and caffeine intake
  • Single status, living by self
  • Health problems or difficult temperaments with baby or other children
  • Chronic health problems, pregnancy/delivery complications
  • Discontinuing or decreasing antidepressant medication
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