Depression and Pregnancy

Depression and Anxiety During and After Pregnancy

Although we expect pregnancy and new parenthood to be filled with wonderment, hope, and anticipation, often these are also times when women are vulnerable to depression.

Depression before birth or after birth is a major public health problem affecting 10-15% of all women and up to 28% of women. Unfortunately, depression is often undiagnosed and untreated, leaving a woman and her family to suffer.

What is the difference between “baby blues,” and postpartum depression?

Many women have the baby blues in the days after childbirth. The baby blues most often go away within a few days or a week. The symp­toms are not severe and do not need treatment.

If you have the baby blues, you may:

  • Have mood swings
  • Feel sad, anxious, or overwhelmed
  • Have crying spells
  • Lose your appetite
  • Have trouble sleeping

The signs of postpartum depres­sion last longer and are more severe. Postpartum depression can begin anytime within the first year after childbirth. If you have postpartum depression, you may have any of the warning signs of depression listed above. Postpartum depression needs to be treated by a doctor. Symptoms may also include:

  • Thoughts of hurting your baby
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself
  • Not having any interest in your baby

What should I do if I have symp­toms of depression and/or anxiety during or after pregnancy?

Call your doctor if:

  • Your baby blues don’t go away after 2 weeks.
  • Signs of depression and/or anxiety get more and more intense.
  • Signs of depression and/or anxiety begin any time after delivery, even many months later.
  • It is hard for you to perform tasks at work or at home.
  • You cannot care for yourself or your baby.
  • You have thoughts of harming your­self or your baby.

Before visiting your doctor, please take a few minutes to fill out the Maternal Behavioral Health Help Checklist. This will start the conversation when you meet with your doctor. Your doctor can refer you to a behavioral health professional who specializes in treating depression and/or anxiety.

More Help is Available

  • Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby Team: 414-337-BABY (2229)
  • Maternal and Child Health Hotline: 1-800-722-2295
  • Postpartum Support International: 1-800-944-4773
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)