Lutherville event raises awareness of postpartum mood disorders

“I would pack and repack the diaper bag eight times and then never leave,” she said. The anxiety was so overwhelming that Syphard sometimes struggled to get out of bed.

Syphard, 34, knew that her symptoms were more than the typical jitters of a new parent. Eventually, she found help and a diagnosis: postpartum anxiety and postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Syphard, her husband and 3-year-old daughter joined three dozen other families to raise awareness of postpartum mood disorders Saturday at a Lutherville park. The event was one of 200 held across the country as part of a campaign called “Climb Out of the Darkness.”

The local team, organized by Syphard and Samantha Zipp Dowd, raised more than $15,000 for Postpartum Progress, a group that works to spread the word about postpartum mood disorders.

Mothers, fathers and a few grandparents walked a 1.5 mile loop through Meadowood Regional Park carrying infants strapped to their chests and pushing strollers. Older children ran through the grass and zipped by on scooters.

Sara Daly, a clinical social worker at Sinai Hospital, said studies show that one in seven women suffers from a postpartum mood disorder, such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and, the most severe, postpartum psychosis.

The hormonal flucuations, sleep deprivation and major life adjustments that follow the birth of a child can all be contributing factors, she said. Symptoms can begin during pregnancy, immediately after birth or as much as a year later.

Daly is about to start a free support group that will be open to all mothers with postpartum mood disorders — not just those who deliver at Sinai. She screens new mothers at the hospital and helps connect them with services.

Tim Taormino, 44, of Overlea, said that postpartum mood disorders can be hard on fathers, too. His wife dealt with postpartum anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder after the birth of their son two years ago.

“It was very much an experience for both of us,” said Taormino, a cartographer. Now, he and his wife have learned skills to help them cope with anxiety.