What Language Is That?

It’s not uncommon that clinicians throw around acronyms and words that others don’t understand. Just like other professions, the healthcare industry has its own terminology that can be difficult to follow if you’re not trained in it. In fact, there are even courses available to receive a Medical Terminology Certificate.

To further complicate terminology in medicine, different medical specialties use acronyms and phrases that those within other specialties are not familiar with. In the perinatal mental health world, we often throw around a lot of terminology that even other mental health providers are not privy to. This is one of the many reasons we believe it is imperative for all mental health providers involved in treating perinatal patients to receive specific training in this realm.

We thought it might be helpful for others to clear up what some of the phrases, words and acronyms mean around perinatal mental health, as well as the various levels of care. Don’t know what perinatal means? No worries, we’ve got that one covered too.

Levels of Care in Mental Health:

  • Outpatient treatment

This refers to the lowest level of care and takes place in an office setting. Typically outpatient therapy appointments last 40 minutes to 60 minutes and occur anywhere from 2-3 times a week to once a month. Outpatient psychiatric treatment appointments last less than an hour, as well, and occur weekly to annually.

  • IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program)

    This refers to therapy that is occurring multiple hours a day for multiple days a week. These programs usually take place in an office setting, but can sometimes be located at hospitals. It is more frequent than outpatient therapy, but less frequent than PHP. Patients usually see a psychiatrist who is involved with the IOP once or twice during the program, but will see a therapist in a group setting during the program days.

  • PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program)

This refers to treatment that occurs for the majority of the day, 4-5 days a week. The setting is usually at a hospital, but patients do not stay the night in the hospital. While in a PHP, patients are usually seen by a psychiatrist associated with the program a few times, in addition to the therapists they work with during the program days.

  • Inpatient treatment

This is the highest level of care. While a patient is inpatient, they are staying in a hospital all day and usually unable to leave the hospital grounds. Inpatient hospitalizations typically last 3-5 days on average; however, it can range from less than 24 hours to months. Long-term hospitalization is a different type of hospitalization that is much more rare, where patients spend months to years in the hospital.


  • Perinatal - usually refers to the period of time from conception to one year after delivery, or one year postpartum.

  • Prenatal - the period of time from conception until labor, also known as antepartum.

  • Peripartum - the period of time around birth. This is less well-defined, but usually refers to the few weeks leading up to birth, and the few weeks following birth.

  • Antepartum - the period of time from conception until labor, also known as prenatal.

  • Intrapartum - the period of time from the onset of labor until delivery of the infant and placenta.

  • Postpartum - typically this is the period of time from delivery until 12 months after delivery; however, others may define it as being from the time of delivery to anywhere from 6 weeks after delivery to 2 years after delivery.

  • Gestation - refers to the period of time during pregnancy starting from the first day of the last menstrual cycle. Often used to describe the age of the fetus.

  • Preterm labor - labor prior to 38 weeks gestation.

  • PMAD - perinatal mood and anxiety disorder

  • PPD - postpartum depression

  • PPA - postpartum anxiety

  • PPND - paternal perinatal depression

  • PND - perinatal depression

  • PMD (vs PMDD) - perinatal mood disorder. PMDD is an acronym for premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is unrelated to pregnancy.

  • EPDS - Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale

  • CBT - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

  • DBT - Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

  • CPT - Cognitive Processing Therapy

  • EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

  • IPT - Interpersonal Psychotherapy

  • IOP - intensive outpatient program

  • PHP - partial hospitalization program

  • DSM-V - Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition

  • LBW - low birth weight. Refers to the weight of a newborn.

  • LGA - large for gestational age. Refers to the size of a fetus

  • SGA - small for gestational age. Refers to the size of a fetus. The acronym, SGA, is also used to refer to a class of medications, called second generation antipsychotics.

  • MCM - major congenital malformations

  • NAS - neonatal adaptation syndrome

  • PPHN - persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn

  • SSRI - selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor

  • SNRI - serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor

  • TCA - tricyclic antidepressant

  • ECT - electroconvulsive therapy

This blog post was written by Kristin Yeung Lasseter, MD who is the current Medical Director of PPHA and Psychiatrist at Reproductive Psychiatry Clinic of Austin

Why You Should Donate to PPHA

No mother in the midst of a perinatal mood disorder should feel alone. No parent experiencing anxiety, depression, or crippling grief from pregnancy or infant loss should feel they have nowhere to turn. The feelings that 1 out of 7 mothers experience in the perinatal period can cause them to feel isolated and filled with shame. These feelings are made worse by a systemic lack of support in a country that does not guarantee paid paternal leave and access to healthcare. Not to mention that the United States is the most dangerous nation to give birth in the developed world. This statistic is more alarming for women of color, who are three times as likely to die from complications of child birth.

As cases of mental illness and complications from birth continue to rise, birthrates among this generation of potential parents is sinking. Though it can be attributed to a variety of factors, the statistic speaks for itself. Mothers, fathers, babies, families, and communities are more in need of advocacy and support than ever. And if we are to be a thriving nation, we must begin with helping families to thrive. This will take legislative progress on the part of family services and benefits. It will take an increased awareness around mental health and perinatal mood disorders. Most of all, it will take supporting new families and being there for them in their time of need.

This is where PPHA comes in. The Pregnancy and Postpartum Health Alliance of Texas was created in 2010 in Austin, Texas, by mothers and mental health professionals who saw a disabling void in the maternal health care system. Families in Austin were in need of resources, so that they could easily find health care providers who could help them through the depths of perinatal mood disorders like postpartum depression. They were in need of a community, that could help erase any negative stigma around mental illness and parenthood. Under-served and low income families were in need of services that were not available to them, because of a lack of health insurance or financial resources. The founders of PPHA saw this need, and they came together to create solutions.

Since then, countless mothers and families have been impacted positively by the work of providers, doulas, and volunteers through PPHA. But although non-profit organizations like this one create great strides in progress for their communities, they often do so without funding. PPHA relies chiefly on donations from benefactors who are passionate about supporting moms and families. Luckily for PPHA and for those experiencing perinatal mood disorders, the call for help has been heard by a vast community of benefactors from Texas and all over the world.

As we continue to expand our reach, aiming to serve more families each year, we ask for donations. This time of year is especially important, as it’s our annual drive for fundraising through Amplify Austin. All day on February 28th, we’ll be asking for donations to reach our $15,000 goal. With your help, we’ll be able to continue to answer the call for help from all affected families. Our impact is lasting and life-changing. Together, we can continue to create a community that supports moms and families in some of their darkest periods of need. To schedule a donation, go to https://www.givegab.com/nonprofits/pregnancy-postpartum-health-alliance-of-texas-ppha

Thank you!