Mood Disorders During Pregnancy & Childbirth
Hormonal changes during pregnancy and childbirth can have a profound impact
on mood. Approximately 10% of women experience depression during pregnancy,
and studies show that women who have been treated for depression before
pregnancy are more likely to experience depression during pregnancy. Depression
is a serious medical condition that poses risks for both mother and baby.
That’s why it’s important for women who have had a history
of depression, or are taking antidepressants, speak with their physician
prior to trying to conceive. The good news is, there are highly effective
treatment options available to manage depression during pregnancy, including
individual and group therapy or counseling, and in some cases anti-depressant
Postpartum mood changes are common due to the significant hormonal changes
that occur immediately following childbirth. In fact, approximately 80%
of women experience the “baby blues” – a period of heightened
emotional sensitivity and mild depression which occurs within the first
10 days after delivery and may last about 1-2 weeks.
However, for about 10-15% of women, these symptoms are more profound and
persistent. Called postpartum depression, this condition can occur within
the first few weeks after childbirth and can persist up to one year or
longer, if not treated. Postpartum depression is characterized by moderate-to-severe
mood changes that can interfere with a woman’s ability to handle
day-to-day tasks, including caring for her infant.
Postpartum depression symptoms generally include:
- Severe mood swings and intense irritability and anger
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Difficulty bonding with the baby
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Loss of interest in sex
- Lack of joy in life
- Loss of appetite
In some cases, postpartum depression is so severe that a woman may have
thoughts of harming herself or her infant. In these cases, it is critical
that a woman seek immediate medical attention.
Support at Hoag Hospital
Hoag Women’s Health Institute also offers a Postpartum Adjustment
Group for new mothers experiencing the baby blues or postpartum depression.
This free, ongoing support group focuses on teaching positive coping skills
and providing support and education. Risk factors and symptoms of postpartum
depression are discussed, as well as strategies for successfully overcoming
depression. The support group is facilitated by LCSW and meets Monday
evenings from 6 – 7 p.m in the Hoag Hospital Conference Center (Building
44), Suite CC3. Group is free to our community. Babies and support persons
are welcome. For more information, please call the Babyline at 949/764-2229.