Pregnancy & Postpartum Depression

Pregnancy has been historically known as a period of emotional well-being, but for about 20% of women it can be just the opposite. Studies show that depression is one of the most common complications of pregnancy and women with pre-existing mood disorders are at particular risk of relapsing during pregnancy or postpartum. Many women are hesitant to seek help for mood disorders during pregnancy but the consequences of untreated depression are serious for mom and baby. Maternal depression can affect the child’s emotional and intellectual development. Medications (if necessary), support, lifestyle modification and or psychotherapy are very helpful and can prevent serious life-long consequences that arise from untreated maternal depression.

Postpartum depression symptoms might include:

  • Feeling sad
  • Crying a lot
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Lack of energy
  • Not interested in things you used to enjoy
  • Not interested in your baby
  • Fear of hurting yourself or your baby
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Withdrawing from people
  • Feeling overwhelmed

The period right after having a baby is a time when women are vulnerable to depression and/or relapse of previous psychiatric illness. Although many women experience passing feelings of "baby blues" in the 3-14 days after giving birth, about 10 to 20 percent of women become clinically depressed during this period. A common symptom of post-partum depression is anxiety. Women may worry that they are not doing a good enough job in caring for the baby. These symptoms can worsen to the point of impairing a woman's ability to care for herself or the baby. We can help a woman manage these symptoms. In extreme cases, a woman may lose touch with reality, for example hearing voices or believing the baby would be better off dead. This is an emergency and requires immediate treatment and possible hospitalization.

Treatment

Help is available for depression and anxiety during pregnancy or the postnatal period.  

  • Lifestyle modification (diet and exercise).
  • Psychotherapy and Counseling (individual and group support).
  • Building a support system and ensuring adequate rest.
  • Increasing understanding and developing coping skills.
  • Medication management with antidepressants, post-partum estrogen therapy when necessary.

The following resources are provided to you as you pursue and progress through treatment: