Visiting hours have changed as a result of COVID-19. Learn more. Testing information is available. Learn more.

What are Perinatal Mood Disorders?

Perinatal Mood Disorders are a set of disorders that can occur anytime during pregnancy up to the first year after delivery. Pregnancy and caring for a new baby can be one of the most joyful and exciting times in a woman's life, but it's also hard work. It is natural for a women to experience changes in her feelings and mood during pregnancy and after giving birth. However, if unpleasant feelings do not go away after a couple of weeks - or if they get worse - they could be signs of a Perinatal Mood Disorder.

Climb Out of the Darkness

One way Wayne UNC Health Care supports new parents and provides resources to the community is through the annual Climb Out of the Darkness event, a community walk and fundraiser for Postpartum Support International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting pregnant and postpartum families around the world.

The Climb brings people together all over the globe near the solstice (the longest, brightest day) to shine a light on a darkness we often don’t speak about. We share stories of hope and celebrate recovery as we gather together to raise money, raise awareness and give a voice to those who no longer have one and walk together to symbolize our ‘Climb’ Out of the Darkness. Visit Team Southeast NC's Facebook page to learn more.

Causes and Risk Factors for Perinatal Mood Disorders

Women of every culture, age, income level and race can develop a Perinatal Mood Disorder, which could result from a combination of biologic, hormonal, environmental and psychological factors. There is no single cause or reason a woman develops a Perinatal Mood Disorder, but contributing factors may include:

    • Have been previously diagnosed with postpartum depression
    • Colicky, difficult or demanding newborn
    • Experienced depression or anxiety during previous pregnancy
    • Have a personal or family history of mood disorders or mental illness
    • Have a history of severe PMS
    • Are a woman of color
    • Are a military family
    • Have a poor support system
    • Have a history of abuse

    Symptoms can appear anytime during the two-year span from conception through the baby's first birthday.

    Types of Perinatal Mood Disorders

    • Depression during Pregnancy and Postpartum - A woman with PPD might experience feelings of anger, sadness, irritability, guilt, lack of interest in the baby, changes in eating and sleeping habits, trouble concentrating, thoughts of hopelessness and sometimes even thoughts of harming the baby or herself. Learn more about PPD, including risk factors, symptoms and treatment options.
    • Anxiety during Pregnancy and Postpartum (PPA) - A woman with PPA may experience extreme worries and fears, often over the health and safety of the baby. Some women have panic attacks and might feel shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, a feeling of losing control, and numbness and tingling. Learn more about PPA, including risk factors, symptoms and treatment options.
    • Pregnancy or Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Women with PPOCD can have repetitive, upsetting and unwanted thoughts or mental images (obsessions), and sometimes they need to do certain things over and over (compulsions) to reduce the anxiety caused by those thoughts. These moms find these thoughts very scary and unusual and are very unlikely to ever act on them. Learn more about PPOCD, including risk factors, symptoms and treatment options.
    • Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - PPTSD is often caused by a traumatic or frightening childbirth or past trauma, and symptoms may include flashbacks of the trauma with feelings of anxiety and the need to avoid things related to that event. Learn more about PPTSD, including risk factors, symptoms and treatment options.
    • Bipolar Mood Disorder - There are two phases of a bipolar mood disorder: the lows and the highs. The low time is clinically called depression, and the high is called mania or hypomania. Many women are diagnosed for the first time with bipolar depression or mania during pregnancy or postpartum. Bipolar mood disorder can appear as a severe depression; women need informed evaluation and follow-up on past and current mood changes and cycles to assess whether there is a bipolar dynamic. In Bipolar 2, the manic episode is less apparent; the highs and lows are not as extreme, and sometimes it is more apparent to friends and families than to the individual going through the phases. Learn more about bipolar mood disorders during pregnancy or postpartum.
    • Postpartum Psychosis - PPP sufferers sometimes see and hear voices or images that others can’t, called hallucinations. They may believe things that aren’t true and distrust those around them. They may also have periods of confusion and memory loss, and seem manic. This severe condition is dangerous so it is important to seek help immediately. Learn more about PPP, including risk factors, symptoms and treatment options.

    Maternal Mental Health Help

    Rely on Wayne UNC for care and treatment if you or someone you know is experiencing emotional difficulties during or after pregnancy. You may have signs of Perinatal Mood Disorders, including postpartum depression after childbirth.

    Behavioral Health Counseling

    Talk to a compassionate behavioral health provider at Wayne UNC to seek help for postpartum depression.

    Support Group

    Seymour Johnson Family Advocacy Program offers an online support group for parents called Moms, Pops and Tots. The support group meets online on Mondays at 10:00 am. To find out how to join, call 919-722-1878  or email for connection information.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    So, You’ve just had a baby. You expected to be basking in new mom bliss. You expected to be celebrating the arrival of your little one with your friends and family. But instead of celebrating, you feel like crying. You were prepared for joy and excitement, not exhaustion, anxiety, and weepiness. What do I do? Here are some FAQ to help you navigate.

    What is the difference between the “Baby Blues” and a Perinatal Mood Disorder, such as Postpartum Depression?

    The “baby blues” are a short term feeling of being overwhelmed with the adjustments of motherhood. The majority of women experience at least some symptoms of the baby blues immediately after childbirth. It is a feeling precipitated by the sudden change in hormones after delivery, stress, isolation, sleep deprivation, and fatigue. You might feel more tearful, overwhelmed, and emotionally fragile. Generally, this will start within the first couple of days after delivery, peak around one week, and taper off by the end of the second week postpartum. These feelings will come and go in the first couple of weeks postpartum, and they almost always resolve on their own.

    Perinatal Mood Disorder symptoms can be similar to the baby blues. However, unlike the baby blues, a Perinatal Mood Disorder has the potential to become more serious, if left untreated, and should not be ignored. The symptoms of a perinatal mood disorder are more severe and are longer lasting. A good way to gage, is to ask yourself: How often you do I feel like this, how long you have been feeling this way, and how much it impedes your functioning.

    What are some resources in our area?

    • H.E.A.R.T. for Moms support group – First Wednesday of every month at Living Waters Counseling
      • Also offered at Wayne Pregnancy Center on the First and Third Wednesday of every month at 10:30am.
    • MOPS Motherhood Support Group – Wayne Pregnancy Center, 2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month
    • Partnership for Children – 919-735-3371
    • Counselors that specialize in Perinatal Mood Disorders
    • Base Resources:
      • Family Advocacy: 919-722-1878
        • Mom, Pop, and Tots
        • New Parent Support Program
      • Chaplain: 919-722-0315
      • Military and Family Life Counselors: 919-886-3346 or 919-722-1123

    What should I do if I need help right away?

    It is very important that you reach out right now and find the support and information you need to be safe. Here are some reliable resources to contact in a crisis. These are reliable crisis services operated by other organizations.

    National Crisis Line

    • Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime, about any type of crisis.

    National Suicide Prevention Hotline and Website

    • 1-800-273-8255
    • Call for yourself or someone you care about; free and confidential; network of more than 140 crisis centers nationwide; available 24/7

    What should a family or friend do if they suspect their loved one has a PMD?

    You may be worried that you or someone you care about is suffering from a Perinatal Mood Disorder, such as postpartum depression. It can be very confusing, challenging and even painful to watch your spouse, family member or friend react to becoming a parent in ways that you didn’t expect. Please know that the person with depression or anxiety is not to blame for this illness and that she or he is just as surprised by what is happening to as you are. Thankfully, Perinatal Mood Disorders can be temporary and treatable with support and professional help.

    What if I don't have insurance?

    If you suspect that you have a perinatal mood disorder, but you are concerned where you will get the support you need without insurance -- it’s important to know there are still options available. Most support groups are free and don’t require you to pay out of pocket. Goldsboro has a H.E.A.R.T. for Moms support group that is free, and is led by Licensed Professional Counselors that have specific training in Perinatal Mood Disorders. The Wayne Pregnancy Center offers free parenting and childbirth classes, as well as counseling.

    Postpartum Support International also offers a free Helpline as well as free weekly online support groups. The PSI HelpLine is a toll-free telephone number anyone can call to get basic information, support, and resources. Call PSI’s helpline at 1-800-944-4773. If you need text support, send a message to their Helpline at 503-894-9453. Find the free online support classes here:

    You Are Not Alone

    You Are Not To Blame.  With Help, You Will Be Well.

    Call or Text Postpartum Support International:

    • Call 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD)
      English and Spanish
    • Text 503-894-9453

    Available 24 hours a day, you will be asked to leave a confidential message and a trained and caring volunteer will return your call or text. They will listen, answer questions, offer encouragement and connect you with local resources as needed.

    Raise Awareness - Request a Blue Dot Magnet

    Join Wayne UNC Health Care and show your support for Maternal Mental Health awareness! Complete the Maternal Mental Health Form and receive a blue dot magnet at the address provided.

    Related Locations

    Related Blogs