Postpartum Depression (cont.)

What should I do if I show signs of depression during or after pregnancy?

Some women don't tell anyone about their symptoms because they feel embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty about feeling depressed when they are supposed to be happy. They worry that they will be viewed as unfit parents. Perinatal depression can happen to any woman. It does not mean you are a bad or "not together" mom. You and your baby don't have to suffer. There is help.

There are different types of individual and group "talk therapies" that can help a woman with perinatal depression feel better and do better as a mom and as a person. Limited research suggests that many women with perinatal depression improve when treated with anti-depressant medicine. Your doctor can help you learn more about these options and decide which approach is best for you and your baby. The next section contains more detailed information about available treatments.

Speak to your doctor or midwife if you are having symptoms of depression while you are pregnant or after you deliver your baby. Your doctor or midwife can give you a questionnaire to test for depression and can also refer you to a mental health professional who specializes in treating depression.

Here are some other helpful tips:

  • Try to get as much rest as you can. Try to nap when the baby naps.


  • Stop putting pressure on yourself to do everything. Do as much as you can and leave the rest!


  • Ask for help with household chores and nighttime feedings. Ask your husband or partner to bring the baby to you so you can breastfeed. If you can, have a friend, family member, or professional support person help you in the home for part of the day.


  • Talk to your husband, partner, family, and friends about how you are feeling.


  • Do not spend a lot of time alone. Get dressed and leave the house. Run an errand or take a short walk.


  • Spend time alone with your husband or partner.


  • Talk with other mothers, so you can learn from their experiences.


  • Join a support group for women with depression. Call a local hotline or look in your telephone book for information and services.


  • Don't make any major life changes during pregnancy. Major changes can cause unneeded stress. Sometimes big changes cannot be avoided. When that happens, try to arrange support and help in your new situation ahead of time.