by Michelle Chisolm

Are you feeling sad or depressed?

Do you feel more irritable or angry with those around you?

Are you having difficulty bonding with your baby?

Do you feel anxious or panicky?

Are you having problems with eating or sleeping?

Are you having upsetting thoughts that you can’t get out of your mind?

Do you feel as if you are “out of control” or “going crazy”?

Do you feel like you never should have become a mother?

Are you worried that you might hurt your baby or yourself?

Any of these symptoms, and many more, could indicate that you have a form of perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, such as postpartum depression.  While many women experience some mild mood changes during or after the birth of a child, 15 to 20% of women experience more significant symptoms of depression or anxiety.  Please know that with informed care you can prevent a worsening of these symptoms and can fully recover.   There is no reason to continue to suffer.

Women of every culture, age, income level and race can develop perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  Symptoms can appear any time during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth.  There are effective and well-researched treatment options to help you recover.  Although the term “postpartum depression” is most often used, there are actually several forms of illness that women may experience, including:

Pregnancy (also called antepartum) or Postpartum Depression.   A woman with PPD might experience feelings of anger, sadness, irritability, guilt, lack of interest in the baby, changes in eating and sleeping habits, trouble concentrating, thoughts of hopelessness and sometimes even thoughts of harming the baby or herself.

Approximately 15% of women experience significant depression following childbirth.  The percentages are even higher for women who are also dealing with poverty, and can be twice as high for teen parents.  Ten percent of women experience depression in pregnancy.  In fact, perinatal depression is the most common complication of childbirth.

Symptoms can start anytime during pregnancy or the first year postpartum.  They differ for everyone, and might include the following:

  • Feelings of anger or irritability
  • Lack of interest in the baby
  • Appetite and sleep disturbance
  • Crying and sadness
  • Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest, joy or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
  • Possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself

It is important to know the risk factors for antepartum and postpartum depression.  Research shows that all of the things listed below put you at a higher risk for developing these illnesses.  If you have any of these factors, you should discuss them with your medical provider so that you can plan ahead for care should you need it.

  • A personal or family history of depression, anxiety, or postpartum depression
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD or PMS)
  • Inadequate support in caring for the baby
  • Financial stress
  • Marital stress
  • Complications in pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
  • A major recent life event: death, house move, job loss
  • Mothers of multiples
  • Mothers whose infants are inNeonatal Intensive Care (NICU)
  • Mothers who’ve gone through infertility treatments
  • Women with any form of diabetes (type 1, type 2 or gestational)