Recognizing Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Sep 12 10:30am | Miriam E Levi | @midwifemiri

The time right after having a baby can be extremely challenging. Newborns require 24/7 attention, causing new parents to be tired and often overwhelmed. In addition, women are recovering physically as well as experiencing significant hormonal shifts. It is not surprising that postpartum mood difficulties are common. According to Postpartum Support International, 15-20% of women experience depression or anxiety during the postpartum period. They may feel sadness, loss of interest in normal activities, hopelessness, or irritability. In some cases, women may have intense feelings that can lead to thoughts of suicide or hurting their baby. These women should call their care provider or go to the nearest emergency room for immediate help. 

Dr. Summer Allen, a family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, discusses postpartum depression in more detail: 

In recent years, the term postpartum depression has been changed to Perinatal Mood Disorders in order to encompass a wider range of mood symptoms that parents may experience during or after pregnancy. Perinatal mood disorders include depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar mood disorders, and postpartum psychosis. Sometimes it can be helpful to connect with other new parents who are going through similar life changes through community support groups. Learn more about Mayo Clinic's new parent support group called Postpartum Connection available online through the Perinatal Education Center.  

 Additional support is available through Postpartum Support International, including online support groups, emergency help lines via text or phone, a peer mentor program, online forums, a Facebook support group, and a provider directory to help patients connect with counselors and therapists that specialize in perinatal mood disorders. 

For immediate help, contact the National Maternal Health Hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This free, confidential hotline is available for pregnancy and new moms in English and Spanish. Call or text 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (1-833-943-5746). 

 Perinatal mood disorders can occur at any time in pregnancy, the early postpartum period, or throughout the first few years of parenting. Please reach out to your obstetric or family medicine team for support if you or someone you know might be experiencing these symptoms. 

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