Postpartum Depression

          Postpartum depression is a common mental illness that affects people who have given birth. Depression labeled “postpartum depression” is considered to occur within the 1st year postpartum, but many people begin having symptoms before they give birth or continue to have symptoms past 1 year postpartum. Although postpartum depression is by far the most talked about perinatal mental illness – any mental illness occurring during pregnancy or the first year postpartum – there are many other mental illnesses that affect women during this timeframe.
          Very commonly, people also suffer from illnesses like anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Bipolar Disorder, panic, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some of the most common symptoms of postpartum mental illness across all these disorders are listed below. If you are struggling, you’re not alone. Perinatal mental illnesses occur in about 1 in 5 women, making them the most common complication of pregnancy.Read More
          Not every person with postpartum depression will feel or look “classically depressed.” Of course, many moms with postpartum depression do experience sadness, lack of motivation, fatigue, and other common symptoms of depression, but many have more prominent symptoms of anxiety, problems sleeping, and intrusive thoughts. These other symptoms can be equally overwhelming and damaging, but may not be as recognizable to the person suffering or others around her as signs of need for help.
          To complicate things further, postpartum depression often gets confused with the very normal and very common “baby blues.” Baby blues is a short lived period of emotional instability that peaks about 3-5 days after delivery and should go away by 2 weeks postpartum. Many people with baby blues experience more tearfulness and feel more emotionally unstable like people with postpartum depression may, but they do not experience the ongoing sadness or difficulty finding joy that moms with postpartum depression do. A good example of the emotional instability of baby blues is seeing your 1 week old’s tiny sock and bursting into tears because you suddenly feel they are growing too fast. This emotional experience is intense, but relatively short lived and you are not left with an ongoing sense of sadness or emptiness, or anxious or intrusive thoughts.
          If you’re experiencing anything that seems more severe than baby blues, you don’t need to wait to reach out for help, and you should know that these illnesses are not your fault. Postpartum depression and other conditions can be a direct result of the hormonal changes that occur when your baby is born. They can also be a result of chemical changes in the brain in response to the stresses of having and caring for a baby – think sleep deprivation and emotional overwhelm, or experiencing a traumatic birth. For most people with postpartum mental illness, some combination of these factors are involved. Whatever the cause, all of these conditions are treatable!


“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Common Symptoms

Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders include things like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, and PTSD among others. These disorders can sometimes overlap and include some of the symptoms listed below:

Sadness or feeling empty
Difficulty sleeping – trouble falling asleep or staying asleep separate from the sleep disruption caused by your new baby
Anxiety – including mental worries and physical feelings of anxiousness
Intrusive thoughts – typically these thoughts are scary, overwhelming, or disturbing, and seem to come out of nowhere. Very often, they revolve around harm coming to your baby, yourself, or your partner. If you are having intrusive thoughts, please do not be afraid to tell your provider. These are very common and treatable. As scary as they feel, you are not a danger to your baby because you are having these thoughts, but getting help is important!
Irritability – feeling quick to lose your temper
Very high energy – often coupled with not feeling that you need much sleep, have a lot of racing thoughts, feel eager to get a lot of things done, or feel much more social or impulsive than usual
Suicidal ideation – thoughts of not wanting to be alive, wishing you were dead, feeling that others might be better off without you, wishing you just didn’t wake up, or having a specific plan or desire to harm yourself. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. These thoughts are a symptom of an illness. They aren’t you. They are treatable, and you can feel better again. See the top of this website for crisis and emergency information

Brookside Psychiatric Specialists is a tele-healthcare practice dedicated to serving women with mental health concerns related to postpartum, menopause, and menstruation.

Take the first step, get help today

          The best treatment for most people with postpartum depression is a combination of medication and therapy. Some people with more mild depression may do well with just therapy. When medications are appropriate, however, they are often extremely effective. Research has shown that people seem to respond better to medication treatment for postpartum depression than depression occurring at other times, generally speaking. Read More
          Many women have fears about taking medications if they are pregnant or breastfeeding, but most medications we use in mental healthcare are well studied and considered compatible with both pregnancy and breastfeeding. There is no one size fits all medication recommendation or treatment plan for someone who is pregnant or breastfeeding. That’s why it’s important to work with someone who can take a deep look at your concerns and help you make an individualized decision that balances the benefits and risks for you, your baby, and your family.
          No client is guaranteed to leave my office with a prescription, and even when my treatment recommendation includes medication, there is never any pressure to take medication if you decide it’s not the right choice for you. If you are wondering if medication could be right for you, schedule a consultation appointment and, together, we can figure out the best first step to feeling like yourself again.