Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Depression or Anxiety During and After Pregnancy Info Sheet and Maternal Wellbeing Plan

These materials are very useful for new mothers and families to both understand what postpartum depression and anxiety are (info sheet) and to support positive wellbeing for new moms.

In Minnesota, hospitals and other health care facilities are required to provide new mothers, fathers, and families with this information, available in many languages. Hospital Staff: If your hospital would like to use an alternative handout, request permission for the substitution by emailing Tessa.Wetjen@state.mn.us.

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Depression or Anxiety During and After Pregnancy Info Sheet

What you should know

It is very common to feel many emotions during pregnancy or after having a baby. Some women may feel joyful. Others may feel happy sometimes, and stressed and tearful other times. Most of the time, these feelings are mild and come and go.

For some women, feelings of sadness, worry, or stress can be so strong that it is hard to take care of yourself or your baby. When these symptoms last longer than two weeks, you may have depression or anxiety. This happens to 2 out of 10 women and 1 out of 10 fathers. It can happen during pregnancy or anytime in your baby's first year.

Parents of any culture, age, income level, education, and race can experience depression and anxiety. Even though it is common, it is very important to take seriously. Help is available. With treatment and support, you will feel better.

The best treatment

The most effective treatment for depression and anxiety can include:

  • Support from your family, friends and community
  • Individual or group therapy
  • Medicine that can be safely used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding (prescribed by your healthcare provider)

You and your baby

Babies need to feel safe and secure with their parent to grow and be healthy. Depression and anxiety can make it hard to help your baby feel safe and secure. You may not enjoy time with your baby or find it difficult to hold, comfort, or play with your baby.

It can be harder to be present for your baby and understand what he or she needs when upset. You may also feel scared to be alone with your baby.

The good news is that depression and anxiety are very treatable. Getting help for yourself helps you as well as your baby. With treatment and support, you and your baby can get back on track to forming a healthy and secure connection.

Symptoms

Depression and anxiety can happen to both moms and dads. For many parents, symptoms begin in pregnancy. For others, symptoms begin after having a baby. Watch for these symptoms:

  • Feeling sad, or “empty”
  • Feeling worried or anxious
  • Lack of energy, feeling very tired
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, guilty, or worthless
  • Feeling moody or irritable
  • Problems concentrating or making simple decisions
  • Feeling like you are a bad parent, or that your baby would be better off without you
  • Thoughts of hurting your baby, even if you can't imagine acting on them
  • Thoughts about death or suicide

If these symptoms last longer than two weeks, you may have prenatal (if it is during the pregnancy) or postpartum (if it is after delivery) depression or anxiety.

When is it an emergency?

If you feel like hurting yourself or if your loved one speaks of hurting herself or himself, then please contact one of the resources below.

In very rare cases, women can experience very serious symptoms of psychosis after having a baby including unpredictable behavior, confusion and uncontrollable fear. This is a medical emergency and women should be taken immediately to the Emergency Department at the nearest hospital and should not be left alone with their baby.

What causes depression and anxiety?

There is no single known cause. Women who have a history of depression or anxiety are more likely to become depressed or anxious during pregnancy or after birth.

Stress, hormone changes, trauma, lack of support and other stressful experiences such as infertility or a colicky baby can also increase your risk of experiencing depression and anxiety.

If you are depressed or anxious, you need to get help. With treatment and support, you will feel better more quickly and will be able to give your baby the love and attention that all babies need for healthy development.

Things you can do

Being a good parent means taking care of your baby AND yourself. If you take care of yourself, you can take better care of your baby and your family.

Things you can do:

  • Talk with your doctor or midwife. Or ask a loved one to help you get the care you need.
  • Learn as much as you can about postpartum depression.
  • Talk to a therapist, alone or in group therapy.
  • Ask your care provider about medicines that can be safely used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
  • Ask your faith or community leaders about other support resources.
  • Ask friends and family for help with childcare, chores, and errands.
  • Keep active by walking, stretching, swimming and so on.
  • Rest when you have the chance.
  • Eat a healthy diet.

Don't give up! It may take more than one try to get the help you need.

Stories from Other Mothers

"I love children and couldn't wait to have my own. Then my husband went back to work. I started having thoughts about hurting my baby. No matter what I did, I couldn't stop the thoughts. I lived in fear but kept it a secret." - Isabel

"It has been two months since I saw my doctor, and I feel like a different person. The medicine has helped and my family has been very supportive. I have energy again. I love being a mother." - Malia

Who to contact for help:

Mother-Baby HopeLine at Hennepin County Medical Center:
(612) 873-HOPE or (612) 873-4673
Mental health support and resources for pregnant and postpartum women and parents of young children. Leave a message and a trained mental health professional will call you back within 2 business days, Monday through Friday. The HopeLine is not a crisis phone line.

Pregnancy Postpartum Support Minnesota
PPSM HelpLine (612) 787-PPSM or PPSMhelpline@gmail.com
For questions, resources, and phone support, please call the PPSM Helpline or visit www.ppsupportmn.org. All calls are taken by a trained mental health professional. Support and information provided by peer volunteers 7days a week. The PPSM HelpLine is not a crisis phone line.

For immediate help: Call Crisis Connection at 866-379-6363; TTY 612-379-6377 or call 911.