Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMADs) and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
PMAD (Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder) is the name for a range of emotional and physiological responses to pregnancy and childbirth. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of depression that comes with the change in the seasons. Usually the symptoms will start in the fall and continue throughout the winter. Reverse SAD is less common and happens through the spring and summer. Every time I sat down to write this post, I felt stumped. I was at a loss and felt a complete lack of creativity. I was exhausted, drained, and craving sunlight. I don’t currently deal with any PMADs but I DO have SAD. It finally dawned on me, I can share how SAD can affect mothers at risk for PMADs and often show up together.
About 3 months after the birth of my second baby, I felt growing malaise, exhaustion, and anxiety. I was constantly in tears and never felt like I could keep on top of anything. I developed OCD and severe anxiety. As the days got shorter and SAD set in, I started having nearly constant intrusive thoughts. The pressure at social events to be happy and fun made me want to avoid holiday parties and people in general. I didn’t want to ruin the holidays for my husband and children, but I had no desire to join in any festivities or do anything besides sleep. I didn’t think anyone would understand or want to hear about how I really felt. It felt so permanent and hopeless. I was lost and felt like a horrible mother. I was lucky that my partner realized the severity of my depression and helped me find a therapist. With the help of my therapist and supportive friends, I learned to prepare for and recognize the early symptoms of both PMADs and SAD. I developed a “recipe” to help minimize the severity of my symptoms after the births of the rest of my children and during the fall and winter when SAD peaks.
Holiday Delight Recipe
(like Turkish Delight but less edible)
● Self compassion (daily)
● Napping (as needed)
● Dash of the word NO (as needed to maintain boundaries)
● Exercise or movement (daily)
● Time (to process emotions)
● Self care (in whatever form is necessary)
● Daily time outdoors (even a few minutes is helpful)
● Mindfulness or Meditation (several times a week)
● No thank yous (to excessive sugar)
● Omega 3 Supplements (daily)
● Time (with supportive family and friends)
● Therapy (as needed)
● Medication (as needed)
● Light Therapy (if possible, daily)
1. Combine all of the above and sprinkle some more use of the word NO to maintain boundaries and balance.
For the last 12 years, I’ve used this “recipe”. It helped minimize my SAD and PMAD symptoms and I hope someone else finds it helpful as well!