The Pinecrest Center for Women's Mental Health

Depression

mom and baby

How do I know if I have Perinatal Depression?

 You have probably heard of the “baby blues” and postpartum depression. But what you might not have heard is that depression and anxiety can be quite common during pregnancy. There are many degrees of feeling blue. Some women just feel a little down, while others get moody or irritable.

If you are feeling one or more of the following symptoms, you might be suffering from perinatal depression.

  • I have been unable to laugh and see the funny side of things.
  • I have not looked forward to things I usually enjoy.
  • I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong.
  • I have been anxious or worried for no good reason.
  • Things have been getting the best of me.
  • I have been so unhappy that I have had difficulty sleeping.
  • I have felt miserable.
  • I have been so unhappy that I have been crying.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be wondering how you can be feeling this way when you are “supposed to” be filled with joy and great anticipation of the birth of your baby.

You are not alone.

As many as 1 in 5 women experience Perinatal Depression. Unfortunately 80% is not diagnosed or treated. Fortunately, help is available and there are a variety of treatment options to address perinatal depression.

Medications used to treat depression work very well. It is natural for mothers to be concerned about the effects of medication on the fetus and breast milk. It is also important to consider the risks to the mother, the fetus and the baby if the mother does not receive treatment for depression. Without treatment, symptoms may last a few weeks, months or even years. Untreated depression in pregnant women can lead to poor nutrition, missed prenatal appointments, drinking, smoking and difficulty with attachment. For infants the effects can be serious. There is a greater chance of babies arriving too small, too early, or having problems in learning and behavior. In rare cases, the symptoms are severe and indicate potential danger to the mother and baby. In all cases, help is available.

The specialists at The Pinecrest Center will discuss these risks and benefits with you to develop a treatment plan that is best for you and for your baby.

Counseling also helps: The clinicians at The Pinecrest Center can help you to identify cognitive and behavioral interventions that will alleviate symptoms and enhance wellness during this period of adjustment. For some women, psychotherapy may be all that is needed. For others, it can be used along with the medication that the doctor prescribes.