Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.  Feeling anxious does not mean you have an anxiety disorder.  Symptoms related to anxiety disorders are persistent and may include feeling fearful, worried, nervous, uneasy, tense, having difficulty concentrating, chronic worry, concerns which intrudes on sleep, etc.


Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Typically, depression involves low mood and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.  Symptoms related to depressive disorders are persistent and may include feeling worthless, helpless, sad, unhappy, hopeless, and a perception that you are a failure, that there is nothing to look forward to, and/or suicidal thoughts, etc.


Anger is an emotion we all encounter, however, it can be problematic at times and may be present with some mental illness.  Symptoms related to problematic anger are usually persistent or exaggerated beyond what might be considered appropriate for the situation and may include feeling irritated, annoyed, grouchy, feeling like you are ready to explode, yelling, screaming, breaking items, losing control, engaging in violence, or finding yourself involved in more arguments or confrontation.

Obsessive, intrusive, or repetitive thoughts or behaviours

Repetitive thoughts or behaviours include unwanted repeated thoughts, images, or urges, or being driven to perform certain behaviours or mental acts over and over that are difficult to control which cause distress or interfere in functioning (e.g. causing you to avoid going places or being with others, interfering with work, school, or social or family life).

Fluctuating moods

Everyone’s mood fluctuates to some degree over time; however, mood fluctuations may be disruptive if you are experiencing rapidly fluctuating mood or mood swings, or labile mood, which is an emotional response that is irregular or out of proportion to the situation at hand.  Mood related symptoms may include severe mood swings, intense reactions, and dramatic changes in opinions and feelings.


In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders - Fifth Edition (DSM-5) this term describes a period of time from pregnancy up to 4 weeks postpartum; however, generally, the mental health community considers this period of time to include the period of time from conception up to 12 months postpartum).


Perinatal Loss - Reproductive Loss

Any loss, spontaneous miscarriage, abortion, therapeutic abortion, still=birth, neonatal loss, or sudden infant death up to 1 year. 



The delivery of a baby which has passed away prior to delivery. 

Neonatal Loss

The passing of a baby within the first 28 days of life. 

Grief and Bereavement related to Perinatal Loss

The signs and symptoms of grief and loss following any type of loss which occurs at any time either in pregnancy or in the 12 months following delivery.  These include sorrow, anger, low mood, crying, questioning, etc.,


Trauma, in the context of psychology, is the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one's ability to cope, or integrate the emotions involved with that experience

Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain which lasts more than 6 months is called chronic pelvic pain, otherwise the pain is considered acute.  While Pelvic Pain may affect men (in men this condition is known as chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome), women are more likely to experience this type of pain.  Common causes in include: endometriosis in women, bowel adhesions, irritable bowel syndrome, and interstitial cystitis, or other conditions.  Chronic pelvic pain may cause adverse mental health symptoms.


Medical professionals often define menopause as having occurred when a woman has not had any vaginal bleeding for a year.  It may also be defined by a decrease in hormone production by the ovaries. In those who have had surgery to remove their uterus but still have ovaries, menopause may be viewed to have occurred at the time of the surgery or when their hormone levels fell.  Menopause is usually a natural change.  Other causes include surgery that removes both ovaries or some types of chemotherapy.  At the physiological level, menopause happens because of a decrease in the ovaries' production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

High-risk Pregnancy

High-risk pregnancies are the main focus of doctors specializing in maternal-foetal medicine.  Serious pre-existing disorders which can reduce a woman's physical ability to survive pregnancy include a range of congenital defects (that is, conditions with which the woman herself was born, for example, those of the heart or reproductive organs, some of which are listed above) and diseases acquired at any time during the woman's life.

In Vitro Fertilization

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex series of procedures used to treat fertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child.

Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer

A diagnosis of Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome (HBOC) is considered when there are multiple cases of breast cancer and/or ovarian cancer on the same side of the family.


A Gynaecology refers to women’s reproductive health care, including birth control, menopause, and reproductive health issues. There are various surgeries related to gynaecology.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Perinatal

Obessive and/or compulsive thoughts and behaviours may meet criteria for obsessive compulsive disorder.  This is a relatively common common mental illness, affecting both men and women; however, when it occurs during the peripartum period of time it is considered Perinatal OCD.

Some women experience symptoms during pregnancy and/or following birth.  These Perinatal OCD symptoms include:



  • Thought or images that repetitively arrive or intrude into your thinking - obsessions

  • Behaviour/actions, and thoughts in which a person engages to try to reduce fear and anxiety often related to thoughts.        e.g. checking, counting, washing, seeking reassurance, using mantras or rituals beyond normative use

  • Anxiety, directly or indirectly due to the thoughts and behaviours.

  • Avoidance, shame, guilt, and intense fear of harming the self, the baby, or of perinatal psychosis


Chronic Worry and Rumination


Chronic worry and rumination are persistent, bothersome, unhelpful thinking behaviours, often 'heard' or noticed as a negative inner-voice or dialogue.  The inner speech of worry involves anxious thoughts regarding risk and threat in the future as well as how to minimize this risk or respond to this threat, often playing out various scenarios on how to respond or what might happen.  Rumination refers to spending time on thoughts and the thoughts about the associated feelings, e.g. depression, anxiety, loss, frustration, anger, disappointment, and sorrow. 









Options for Treatment, because a good fit is Everything.

Within Edmonton, there are options for support and/or therapy for reproductive mental health for women.  One such clinic is the Reproductive Mental Health Clinic at the Lois Hole Hospital located within the Royal Alexandra Hospital.  Another clinic is the Edmonton North Primary Care Network which is an extension of over 200 north-east Edmonton physician's offices. 


As well, there is a list of private practice providers listed under the Psychology Today website for "pregnancy, prenatal, and postpartum".  Additionally, you may look up the About HOPE: Healthy Outcomes for Pregnancy and Postpartum Experiences website for peer support and other resources in Edmonton.  For post-abortion support, the Edmonton Abortion Recovery Centre is an agency that offers faith-based and non-faith companioning based support.


And, of course, you may call Penny for a free telephone consultation to discuss fit for service with her and/or options for referral and resource information.