Pregnancy can be a time of hormonal shifts. It can also be a time for some women when they feel scared, sad and not in control of their lives. Depression is a mood disorder that affects one in four women at some point in their lives, so it should be no surprise that this would also occur during pregnancy. Experiencing several of the following symptoms for two weeks or more may indicate the presence of depression during pregnancy.
- persistent sadness
- difficulty concentrating
- changes in sleeping and/or eating
- loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness
- possible suicidal thoughts
Untreated depression during pregnancy can be harmful to the pregnant woman and her baby. These risks can include poor prenatal care, poor weight gain, preeclampsia, or use of alcohol or drugs to self-medicate.
Up to 80% of new mothers experience a brief episode of the Baby Blues. These symptoms often resolve within two to three weeks and don’t usually require professional treatment. It is estimated that 10-20% of new mothers experience a Postpartum Mood Disorder, a term used to describe a wide range of emotional disorders after the birth of a baby. These symptoms can have a tremendous impact pm the well being of the mother and her ability to bond with and care for her baby. Symptoms are similar to those of the baby blues, but are more persistent (lasting throughout the day beyond two weeks). Symptoms usually occur soon after delivery, but can appear up to anytime one year after.
Click here to learn more about the symptoms of Postpartum Mood Disorder. Research is emerging around symptoms of postpartum mood disorder in fathers, and adoptive parents as well.
Postpartum Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
These conditions can occur in the postpartum period and may include serious anxiety, obsessions and/or compulsive behaviors around the new baby and it’s health or safety.
This is a severe but extremely rare condition (1 or 2 in 1,000) characterized by a loss of reality, delusions, hallucinations and rapid mood swings and/or thoughts of hurting oneself or one’s baby. Postpartum Psychosis is a serious emergency and requires immediate attention and help. If you or someone you know may be experiencing these symptoms, please go to your nearest emergency room or call 911.