Parenthood is life-altering. It can also be stressful, solitary, and confusing. Pregnant women and new mothers can experience many physical and emotional changes that leave them feeling sad, anxious, overwhelmed, or confused. For many women, these feelings go away quickly. But when these feelings persist or get worse, professional help is needed.
There is a range of mood disturbances that can affect a woman during pregnancy and after childbirth. These problems vary from the "baby blues" — which refers to a mild shift in mood that many women experience after delivery, and that resolves on its own within two weeks — to more severe problems such as postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.
Diagnosing Perinatal Depression
Between 15 and 20 percent of all women experience some form of pregnancy-related depression or anxiety. Symptoms can include:
- Sleep problems, including sleeping too much or too little
- Fatigue or exhaustion
- Appetite changes
- Feeling unable to enjoy things
- Anxiety and worry, including fears about the baby’s wellbeing
- Difficulty feeling attached to the pregnancy or the baby
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Frequent mood changes
- Persistent sadness
- Feelings of inadequacy or guilt
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions or remembering things
Postpartum psychosis is a rare condition that usually includes auditory hallucinations and delusions and, less frequently, visual hallucinations. Affecting only one or two women per thousand, this is an emergency requiring immediate evaluation and possibly hospitalization.
It is essential to speak with your doctor if you are experiencing anxiety or depression during or after your pregnancy. Providing this information can help your doctor evaluate your needs and find the best treatment option for you.
How We Treat Perinatal Depression
At NewYork-Presbyterian, our psychiatrists and behavioral health specialists work with primary care doctors and obstetrician-gynecologists to develop effective treatment plans for expectant and new moms with depressive symptoms. Treatment and recovery times vary, depending on the severity of the depression and individual needs. Our faculty includes experts who can provide treatments to ease anxiety, alleviate depression, and help new parents work through new or existing issues in their relationship.
Next Generation Therapeutic Care through Research
Research forges progress. The researchers and physicians at NewYork-Presbyterian are persistently progressing our understanding of depression, anxiety, and its impact on mothers and their children. Working in close collaboration with two Ivy League institutions — Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medicine — our research faculty are studying important issues such as the relationship between depression and fetal growth, effects of stress in pregnancy, and interventions that may prevent against postpartum depression. Through this research, we can get a greater understanding of how psychiatric disorders and their treatments affect women and their families.
Find out how you can help forge the future of medicine, visit our clinical trials section.
Appointments & Referrals
Our inpatient and outpatient programs are run by highly skilled psychiatrists and psychologists with sub-specialty training in areas ranging from addiction to sleep disorders. To learn more about our inpatient services or to be admitted for inpatient treatment, please call 888-694-5700. To learn more about our outpatient services or to find a psychiatrist, please call 877-NYP-WELL.
Please note, if this is an emergency, please dial 9-1-1 or visit your local emergency department. For free and confidential support from trained mental health professionals, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or NYC Well at 888-NYC-WELL (888-692-9355).
Refer A Patient
At NewYork-Presbyterian, we treat a diverse patient population. Clinicians in private practice or at other hospitals are welcome to refer their patient to NewYork-Presbyterian. Please call 888-694-5700 to arrange a referral.
For more information on the comprehensive, behavioral health services we offer or to schedule a consultation, please call