Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Having a baby can be one of the biggest and happiest events in a person's life. Life with a new baby can be exciting and rewarding, but it can also be stressful at times. Many physical and emotional changes can happen during pregnancy and after having a baby. These changes can make pregnant people and new parents sad, anxious, overwhelmed, or confused.

These feelings are very common. For many parents, they quickly go away. You may need help from a provider if these feelings last for several weeks, or if they get worse.

The time period while you're pregnant and after your baby is born is called "perinatal." Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD) can happen while you are pregnant – during the prenatal period. They can also happen after you give birth – during the postpartum period. With treatment, ​Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorderscan be temporary.

For help, contact the Postpartum Resource Center of New York by calling 1-855-631-0001 (English and Spanish). Open 7 days per week, 9 am-5 pm.

Click here to connect to the helpline by email.

The "baby blues"

Many people may feel depressed or anxious during the first two weeks after delivery. People may have many feelings after having a baby. They may feel:

  • Tired or exhausted, even after getting sleep
  • Overwhelmed or anxious
  • Frustrated or irritable
  • Sad (or they may cry)
  • Happy then sad for no apparent reason (mood swings)
  • Unable to concentrate

These feelings usually get better or go away in a couple of weeks without treatment. It can help to talk with your friends, family, and other ​parents, or your health care provider. If they don't go away, ask for help from a health care provider.

Six Things to Know about Perinatal Depression and Anxiety

1. Perinatal depression and/or anxiety are common.

Perinatal depression can affect any pregnant person or new parent, regardless of age, income, race, ethnicity, or education.

2. There are many symptoms. Each person may have a different feeling or symptom:

  • Feeling sad
  • Feeling overwhelmed or anxious
  • Feeling guilty or inadequate
  • Having mood swings – highs and lows
  • Not enjoying things you used to enjoy
  • Having different sleeping and eating habits
  • Worrying excessively about your baby
  • Having hallucinations – seeing or hearing things that aren't there
  • Thinking of harming yourself or your baby

It is a serious emergency if you see or hear things that are not there (hallucinations). It's also a serious emergency if you have thoughts of killing yourself, or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. If you or a loved one have these thoughts, call 911.

3. Symptoms can appear any time during pregnancy and up to a year after delivery.

  • Prenatal depression and/or anxiety happen during pregnancy, before the baby is born.
  • It is common to have some feelings like sadness and worry shortly after delivery. They can last up to a couple of weeks.
  • Postpartum depression and/or anxiety happen after delivery. They can last several weeks. Without treatment, postpartum depression and/or anxiety can get worse over time.

4. Perinatal depression and/or anxiety are not your fault.

  • Perinatal depression and/or anxiety are common and treatable.
  • Your medical history and how your body reacts to stress or hormones can cause perinatal anxiety and/or depression.
  • Friends, family, and co-workers can provide support for you and your baby. This will help you through perinatal depression and/or anxiety.

5. Getting treatment sooner is better.

  • Your physical and emotional health affect your baby's health and development.
  • Treatment options include therapy (talking with a trained professional) and various medicines. This includes medicine that is safe during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
  • In addition to therapy and medicine, some people find that the following can help them cope with stress: support groups, meditation, physical activity, and healthy eating. These can also help reduce symptoms of perinatal depression and/or anxiety.

6. Help is available.

  • It is a serious emergency if you see or hear things that are not there (hallucinations). It's also a serious emergency if you have thoughts of killing yourself, or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. If you or a loved one have these thoughts, call 911.
  • Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  • Start by talking with your OB/GYN, midwife, or other health care provider. They can connect you with mental health professionals to help you manage your feelings.
  • See the resources below for other ways to get help.

Resources

To learn more about ​perinatal mood and anxiety, or to get help, visit the following websites. Or, call the following hotlines:

NOTE: Websites and phone numbers may not lead to New York resources.

Emergency Resources

If ​someone is thinking about harming ​themselves or ​ their infant, help is needed immediately. If a person's life is in danger, call 911.

For ​people in crisis who need help, hotlines are available:

  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.
  • Parental Stress Hotline – Help for Parents: 1-800-632-8188. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text "Got5" to 741741. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

For Friends and Family: Helping Someone with ​Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Friends and family may be the first to recognize symptoms of ​ perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. You can encourage ​ them to talk with a health care provider, offer emotional support, and help by caring for the baby, doing chores, or running errands. Your support can make a huge difference.

Get help quickly if you know someone who is in crisis, thinking of suicide, or thinking about harming ​ themselves or their baby.

  • Call 911 for emergency services or go to the nearest emergency department.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. TTY: 1-800-799-4889.

For more information, visit the National Child and Maternal Health Education Network.