Women and Their Families

Are you feeling sad? Perhaps you are crying a lot. Maybe you feel overwhelmed. This can be a difficult time. You are not alone. We have resources to help you feel better.

Maternal mental health is an important public health issue. Since 2002, we have studied depression in women while they are pregnant and after giving birth.

Most women believe that pregnancy is a time of happiness and excitement. When you feel depressed during this life event, it’s normal to experience feelings of guilt and shame which can make it difficult to admit to not feeling “right”.

Here is some helpful information to help you understand perinatal depression.

What is perinatal depression?

Perinatal depression occurs during your pregnancy and can last up to 3 months after you deliver your baby. Postpartum depression takes right after birth and can also last for 3 months. If it remains untreated, some women can continue to feel depressed up to 12 months.

Depression is an illness that can be caused by many factors, including chemical changes to the brain, your lifestyle, how you feel about your pregnancy, support system, hormonal fluctuations, and more.

What are the signs of perinatal depression?

There are common symptoms of perinatal depression. If some of the following feels familiar, we urge you to get help and talk with your physician.

  • Feeling sad, anxious or cranky
  • Frequently crying
  • Lacking energy to do daily tasks
  • Not feeling hungry, or eating when you are not hungry
  • Not wanting to take care of yourself – fix your hair, take a shower, etc.
  • Trouble sleeping when tired, or sleeping too much
  • Things don’t seem fun or interesting anymore
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having trouble making decisions
  • Worrying too much about the baby, or not caring about the baby
  • Fear of harming or being alone with the baby
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or suicide.

How do I know if I have a problem?

A new baby is a happy event, but it can make you tired and emotional. Too little sleep, changing hormone levels and getting used to this new person in your life can be stressful.

Sometimes the signs and symptoms of perinatal depression can go unnoticed. Many of the discomforts during pregnancy and after giving birth can seem similar to the signs of depression.

If you have any of the symptoms shown above for more than 2 weeks, it is time think about getting help. Take a look at our resource section and talk to your physician.

Getting Help

If you are feeling sad, hopeless, crying often, or experiencing any of the other symptoms of depression, there is help.  Many women feel ashamed, guilty, scared and confused when they experience being depressed.

It is important that you reach out for help. The providers on our list specialize in perinatal depression – meaning that they have worked with many women experiencing symptoms similar to yours.

It is important to get help quickly. When perinatal depression is left untreated, it can lead to many problems including poor nutrition, missed prenatal appointments, drinking and smoking. This can cause low birth weight, premature birth and other problems.

Any woman can experience perinatal depression. Regardless of your age, education or socioeconomic group, you can experience perinatal depression. Don’t wait to seek out help by using the resources we have provided as well as talking to your doctor right away.