The perinatal period, during pregnancy and 12 months postpartum, is crucial to the health and wellbeing of women. All aspects of a woman’s life, including the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual, are impacted. Coping with these changes can have profound effects on women, children, and family’s mental, physical, and emotional health (National Perinatal Association, 2018). In utilizing a systemic and intersectional lens, behavioral health are uniquely positioned to support, treat, and advocate for women and their families during the challenging transition from pregnancy to motherhood. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) are a collection of diagnosable mental health conditions that can occur during the perinatal period. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (Kendig et al., 2017), “perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions encountered by women of reproductive age” (p 422). Within the United States, PMADs are considered the most common birth complications for women, affecting approximately one in seven women in the U.S. (Luca et al., 2019) or approximately 15-20% of postpartum women (Gavin et al., 2005). As systemic thinkers, behavioral health providers must be prepared to assess and treat PMADs as the symptoms present in a variety of primary or specialized care constellations, such as routine post-natal follow-ups, stressors related to parenting, and symptoms related to depression and anxiety. The presentation will begin with an overview of the most recent literature about PMADs, including the known risk and exacerbating factors. Then a systemic and intersectional lens will be applied to the existing literature, identifying gaps in conceptualizing treatment and providing the foundations for the use of a contextual and systems-based approach. Finally, the existing evidenced-based practices in individual, couple, and parent-child approaches will be reviewed, along with suggestions for applying an intersectional lens to assessment, treatment, and advocacy at the community level.
- identify the types of perinatal mental health issues, including the evidence-based risk and exacerbating factors.
- describe how to apply a systemic and intersectional lens to the early intervention, assessment, and treatment of perinatal mental health issues.
- list the current evidence-based treatments for perinatal mental health issues, including individual, couple, and parent-child approaches.