MAMI - Maternal Anxiety and Mood Imbalance

October 2006

MAMI - Maternal Anxiety and Mood Imbalance

Image Credit:tabakpolska

This is a guest article from SMA Nutrition.

New mums may be dismissing their feelings of anxiety without recognising they could be showing signs of a distinct form of Post Natal Depression, according to new study findings reported by infant nutrition experts SMA Nutrition.

The in-depth study of 300 new mothers revealed that significant numbers experience a form of anxiety that is distinctly different from the commonly recognised Baby Blues – temporary mild emotional symptoms in the early days of motherhood – and the intense longer term or later-onset condition known as Post Natal Depression (PND).

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Dr Cynthia McVey, Psychologist at Glasgow Caledonian University, who was commissioned to conduct the research, argues that the medical profession should acknowledge how anxiety can be a key ‘stepping stone’ that could develop into PND and that the condition may merit its own distinct definition – MAMI (Maternal Anxiety and Mood Imbalance).

Whilst 70% thought they had the Baby Blues, 33% of these were actually shown to be at risk of PND.In other words, it is important to inform mothers that in some cases of PND it is possible to feel very anxious and exhausted and not depressed.

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The study also suggests that formally renaming this separate ‘strand’ of emotional symptoms as MAMI (Maternal Anxiety and Mood Imbalance) not only acknowledges anxiety as a distinct condition which may be a precursor to PND, it is also a warmer term that may help remove the social stigma that prevents many women from seeking professional help.While 90% of respondents would advise other mothers to talk about their concerns with partners, nearly 40% would be reluctant to talk to health professionals and 50% would be reluctant to talk to a GP.

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Dr John McGinley, senior brand manager for SMA Nutrition who commissioned the study said; “There is a common assumption that motherhood is a rewarding and positive experience, it is also important to provide support for the women who find it to be the very opposite.By funding this research, we wanted to give voice to women currently suffering in silence and to gain a greater understanding of their experiences”.

In response to the findings, SMA Nutrition teamed up with Alison Wall, Health Visitor, to develop some tips for mums experiencing problems:

MAMI Tips For Mums

  1. Talk to a partner or a close friend; talking and sharing will help as you will know you are not alone.
  2. Talk to your health visitor or GP. He/She will understand and support you and you will come through it quicker with help from a professional friend.
  3. Get out of the house each day, even if it’s only for a short walk.Fresh air and a change of scene will help.
  4. Join a new parents group, or a toddler group. It will really help to participate and be part of a community group.
  5. Look after yourself. Have nutritious meals and drinks, and pamper yourself. You need to take care of yourself.
  6. Sleep when you can. Do not overdo it by being too busy. Generally we feel low when tired.
  7. If you feel weepy, then have a good cry – you will feel better afterwards. Don’t start thinking you are depressed just because of a few tears.
  8. Try something new – get away from the same routines.
  9. Do not have too high expectations of yourself. Often mums feel they need to keep the same standards as they did before motherhood – don’t!
  10. Be sure of yourself, and avoid becoming sensitive to other’s comments. Make your own decisions with a partner about issues like returning to work. Do what’s best for the family.

Mum Terry Blake, who took part in the study, says; “After the birth of my son my world fell apart and I just couldn’t cope. I really didn’t think I had PND because although I felt a lot of emotions from anger to stress, I did not feel depressed. I was lucky because when I went to see my GP she was fantastic. She listened to me and trusted me to know my own mind and body and she was able to sign me off work to give me time to recover.”

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About eParenting: eParenting was started by Jacqui O'Brien in 2004. At the time her kids were 1 and 4 and kept her nice and busy. Now they are teenagers and still keeping her pretty busy!

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