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Depression and Anxiety During Pregnancy and After Birth

Learn about prenatal and postpartum depression/anxiety and how to recognize the symptoms. Learn about where to get help if you think you are suffering from a perinatal mood disorders (PMD). 

Are you pregnant or did you just have a baby? Are you feeling overwhelmed with demands and struggling to adjust to your new role as a parent? You are not alone!

Signs and Symptoms:

Baby Blues

Up to 70% of women will experience some of these symptoms in the first two weeks postpartum. This is referred to at the "baby blues"

  • Crying or feeling sad
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling worried or anxious
  • Frustration

Sometimes the “baby blues” do not go away. If you have experienced any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, you may be struggling with a Perinatal Mood Disorder (PMD).

Perinatal Mood Disorders

  • Sadness
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Irritability, frustration and anger
  • Worry
  • Feelings of guilt, loneliness, and confusion
  • Isolating yourself from family and friends
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

You are at an increased risk of PMD if:

  • There is a family history of depression
  • You have a lack of support
  • You experience complications or illness during pregnancy and the delivery
  • You are experiencing extra stressors (such as a sick or high needs baby, family or financial challenges)

Postpartum Psychosis

In rare cases, Perinatal Depression can become a psychiatric emergency called Postpartum Psychosis. This illness begins suddenly in the days or weeks after having your baby. Symptoms can change rapidly and include:

  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Hearing or seeing things that are not there
  • Thinking something is going to harm you or your baby
  • Feeling confused

If this happens, parents should not be left alone or with the baby. Call a doctor! Visit your local emergency department or contact your local crisis line immediately.

Getting Help

Do not blame yourself! Do not be afraid to ask for help from your partner, family, friends, and health care providers. Asking others to help with tasks such as meals, housework and baby care can offer you the relief you need to take care of yourself. Make sure you:

  • Rest/sleep when your baby sleeps
  • Eat well and get out of the house for some fresh air
  • Set realistic goals and expectations
  • Do not be afraid to limit visitors

Counselling can be very helpful, and in some cases medication is needed. Your doctor can recommend a product that you can take while breastfeeding.

Remember, help is available, you are not alone, and you will get better!

  • COAST - Crisis Outreach and Support Team Halton
    (telephone support and mobile intervention for persons who have a mental health crisis/concern)
  • Distress Centre Halton (external link)
    Oakville: 905-849-4541
    Burlington: 905-681-1488
    Halton Hills/Milton: 905-877-1211