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Pregnancy and birth are usually happy events for families. However, 10 to 25 percent of all pregnant women and new mothers are affected by Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, (PMAD.) Several local agencies and organizations are joining forces to increase awareness of PMAD with “Finding Your Way Through,” a conference featuring Pec Indman, Ph.D., author of “Beyond the Blues.” Presentations will be held throughout Humboldt County Oct. 15 – 17, and participants will learn how to recognize, assess and screen for PMAD to better offer support and solutions to local mothers and their families.

During pregnancy and up to one year after birth women have an increased risk of developing a mood or anxiety disorder. While most women experience some mood shifts during pregnancy and soon after birth, such as postpartum depression and the baby blues, PMAD develops when women experience persistent sadness, anxiety, depression, or frustration for a longer duration.

“Many times women suffer in silence due to feeling guilty and ashamed about their symptoms, lack of information about the risk of developing postpartum depression and anxiety and a sense that they are alone,” said Micki Elaine, M.A. clinical psychology, infant/family mental health coordinator and health manager for Northcoast Children’s Services.

Symptoms of depression differ from woman to woman, but may include feelings of anger, fear, guilt, lack of interest in their baby, sleep and appetite disturbances, difficulty concentrating or making decisions and possible thoughts of harming the baby or themselves.

“Perinatal depression is the number one complication of pregnancy,” said Elaine, “with information, support and treatment, there is hope.”

“Finding Your Way Through” presentations will be held as follows. Some sessions require RSVP or registration by Oct. 7, 2014.

For more information, contact Nancy Keleher, DHHS Maternal Child and Adolescent Health Division, at 707-441-5070 or nkeleher@co.humboldt.ca.us.

Wednesday, Oct. 15

Hoopa Fire House, 11120 Highway 96, Hoopa, CA from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. This is a presentation for all who work with moms during and after pregnancy. No charge lunch provided. RSVP required.

Humboldt Area Foundation, 363 Indianola Road, Bayside, CA from 6-8 p.m. An evening dinner presentation for medical providers. RSVP required.

Thursday, Oct. 16

Sapphire Palace, Blue Lake Casino, 777 Casino Way, Blue Lake, CA from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. An all-day conference for people who work with mothers during and after pregnancy. $15 fee, breakfast, snack and lunch included. Advanced registration required.

Friday, Oct. 17

Arcata D Street Neighborhood Center, 1301 D Street, Arcata, CA from 9 to 11 a.m. A community conversation about pregnancy related depression for mothers and all who work with mothers during and after pregnancy. Coffee, snacks and on-site childcare provided. No RSVP necessary.

In 2008, the Prenatal/Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorder Task Force was created by the Maternal Child and Adolescent Health director to address the stigma associated with perinatal mood disorders and to improve access to preventive and supportive care for those at risk. Over the past six years the task force has provided training for community members and medical and human service providers and developed outreach materials.

The conference is sponsored by the Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services, First 5 Humboldt, St. Joseph Health Humboldt County, the Smullin Foundation, the Humboldt Area Foundation, the Mel and Grace McLean Foundation and the Union Labor Health Foundation.

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