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Maternal Depression

Doctor talking with female patient

Did you know that as many as 1 in 9 women experience depression before, during, or after pregnancy? Depression is common and treatable. If you think you have depression, seek treatment from your health care provider as soon as possible.

Moms and moms-to-be deserve the best— including the very best mental health. This feature focuses on depression among women before, during, and after pregnancy.

What is Depression?

Everyone feels sad sometimes, but these feelings normally pass within a few days. Depression can interfere with daily life and may last for weeks or months at a time.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression doesn’t feel the same for everyone. Some people may experience a few symptoms, and others might experience many. How often symptoms occur, how long they last, and how intense they may feel can be different for each person.

Pregnant woman

As many as 1 in 9 women experience depression before, during, or after pregnancy

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Lasting sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Feelings of irritability or restlessness
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Loss of energy
  • Problems concentrating, recalling details, and making decisions
  • Difficulty falling asleep or sleeping too much
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains that do not get better with treatment

Postpartum depression is depression that occurs after having a baby.  Feelings of postpartum depression are more intense and last longer than those of “baby blues,” a term used to describe the worry, sadness, and tiredness many women experience after having a baby. The symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to symptoms of depression, but may also include:

  • Crying more often than usual
  • Feelings of anger
  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Extreme worry about your baby or feeling distant from your baby
  • Worrying that you will hurt your baby
  • Feeling guilty about not being a good parent or doubting your ability to care for your baby

If you or someone you know is in crisis, tell someone who can help immediately.

Call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency department for emergency medical treatment.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY: 1-800-799-4889  Online chat is also available 24/7.

Don’t be alone.

Don’t leave another person alone if he or she is in crisis.

Seeking Treatment

Having a baby is challenging and every woman deserves support. If you are experiencing emotional changes or think that you may be depressed, make an appointment to talk to your health care provider as soon as possible. Most people get better with treatment and getting help is the best thing you can do for you and your baby.

The first step to treatment is talking to your health care provider. After your visit, make sure to follow-up on all referrals and treatment that he or she suggests. When discussing medications with your provider, let her or him know if you are pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant, or breastfeeding. You and your provider can decide if taking medicine while pregnant or breastfeeding is right for you. Visit Treating for Two for more information.