Understanding the Impact of PMADs on the Military Community
Written by: Nicole Unsworth, LMFT and PHA Content Development Co-Chair
Becoming a new parent or expanding one’s family can be an amazing experience. It also presents many stressors and anxieties, with all of the unknowns can quickly become overwhelming for anyone. Being in a military family adds another level of complexity with deployments, duty station changes, and the demands of training cycles.
Military families often find themselves far from family or support with their partner deployed for extended amounts of time or working incredibly long hours. It is important to remember that the sacrifice these service members make for our country is also the sacrifice made by their families too.
With one partner deployed and thousands of miles away, potentially in a high stress or combat environment, it is incredibly hard to maintain communication. They may feel completely disconnected from what is happening at home, and their partner may feel like they can’t share everything they are going through because they don’t want to add any more stress onto their spouse’s plate. They may have young children who are having difficulty adjusting to one of their parents being gone. Add to this the craziness that is 2020, the pandemic, the lockdowns, school closures, and everything else that has made this year so hard, it is easy to expect that Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) will impact every community with a greater affect, but it will likely hit the military community incredibly hard.
Prior to the pandemic, studies show that military spouses who have recently given birth are 2.3 times more likely to experience a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder than civilians in the general population. Of the women sampled, 35% were more likely to become so severely depressed that, without treatment, they were at greater risk of succumbing to self-inflicted harm resulting in death.
Meanwhile, 19.5% of active-duty mothers have been shown to screen positive for a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) and are at a higher risk of having suicidal ideation rates than their civilian counterparts (Wayne UNC healthcare – Nov.19th, 2019).
It is easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless, but fortunately, there are so many resources available to new parents and specifically military families that can help.
We want to sincerely thank all our military families for all their sacrifices and acknowledge the extra layers of complexities they may face. Your strength is admirable and know that we are here for the challenging moments and experiences too. Please reach out if you need additional resources or need to find someone to connect with, someone that understands what you are feeling and going through.
Outlines resources for the following categories:
- Primary Military Resources
- Military Spouse Resources
- Military Child Resources
- Military Health Care Resources
- Military Shopping Resources
- Saving Money Resources from Military Spouses
- Military Spouse Blogs Worth Reading
Postpartum Support International-
Basic Information, Support, and Resources related to PMADs
- The PSI HelpLine is a toll-free telephone number anyone can call to get basic information, support, and resources. The PSI HelpLine is not a crisis hotline and does not handle emergencies. People in crisis should call their physicians, their local emergency number or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number listed above.
- PSI HelpLine – 1-800-944-4773(4PPD)
- Text Support – 503-894-9453
- PSI Online Provider Directory – Find providers near you who have a special interest in treating and serving families and women experiencing perinatal mental health issues.
- Postpartum Support International offers free online support groups and weekly chats. Learn more on their website.
If you need immediate help, please contact one of the national emergency services listed below. They are available 24/7, 365 days a year.
· National Suicide Prevention Hotline –
In a time of crisis
- This free and confidential service operates a network of more than 140 crisis centers nationwide that are available 24/7.