Supporting new parents when welcoming new life into the family

  • Young parents with their baby girl at home.

Welcoming a new baby into your home is a joyous time. But it can also be challenging. Some new parents experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, or PMADS, after their baby is born. Learn more about PMADS and how you can support yourself or your loved one during this transition period.

What are PMADS?

PMADS are challenging emotional states that can occur during and after pregnancy. Two of the most common PMADS are postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. Sometimes the term “perinatal” is used instead of postpartum (e.g., perinatal depression). Perinatal refers to the time period surrounding pregnancy, including both before and after birth. Many people do not realize that PMADS can start as early as pregnancy.

Postpartum depression (or PPD) effects approximately 15% of women following birth. It generally sets in within 4 to 8 weeks of giving birth. It should not be confused with the “baby blues”, which is milder and sets in within about 2 weeks of giving birth. Postpartum anxiety (or PPA) includes intense worry and anxiousness that disrupts daily life. PPA often occurs with PPD, in up to 50% of PPD cases. Because PPA is often reported with PPD, exact rates are hard to know. But some experts say 10% of new mothers experience PPA. PPA generally sets in about 2-3 weeks after giving birth.  

It’s also important to know that fathers and other partners can also get PPD and PPA. Studies have shown that approximately 7-9% of new fathers experience PPD. Supporting parents, parents of adoptive children, and parents of surrogate-born children are all at risk for PPD.

Risk Factors

There is no one cause of PPD or PPA, but there are some risk factors. These can include age of the mother, personal health history or family history of anxiety or depression, and life stressors such as lack of social support, relationship problems, financial difficulties, and recent painful life events (e.g., job loss, death of a loved one, health emergency).

Signs & Symptoms

Some signs and symptoms of PPD include excessive crying, mood swings, trouble sleeping, irritability, intense anxiety or worry, feelings of hopelessness, inability to concentrate, headaches, changes in appetite, withdrawal from the baby and other family members or loved ones, and not wanting to participate in usual activities. Some PPA signs and symptoms are Increased heart rate, weight loss, nausea, nervous thoughts, worse-case scenario thinking, feeling on edge, guilt, shame, restlessness, and tension. Remember, PPD and PPA can occur together and may have overlapping symptoms. Some mothers may also experience symptoms during pregnancy, not just after. For new fathers or supporting partners, some other signs and symptoms may include anger, irritability, and aggression.

What To Do

There are different treatment options for PPD and PPA, such as counseling or medication. If you or someone you love is showing signs and symptoms of PPD and/or PPA, here are some ideas for steps to take to improve your mental health:

  • Take note of signs you're noticing, include dates and times if you can
  • Make an appointment with your physician; and take your notes on signs and symptoms you are experiencing
  • Seek out support from friends, family, support groups and on-line forums
  • Find local mental and behavioral health resources:

In watching for signs and seeking help, you can ensure you or your loved one gets the appropriate treatment needed.

Learn more about PPD and PPA here: and


Our specialists  help create healthy people and healthy places in New Hampshire. 

living well with Chronic Pain WORKSHOPS


Youth & Family Resiliency State Specialist
Assoc State Spec Professor
Phone: (603) 862-2495
Office: Cooperative Extension, Pettee Hall Rm GO5C, Durham, NH 03824