Reducing Elective Deliveries Before 39 Weeks
New Full Term Pregnancy Definition
Depression and Anxiety Around Pregnancy
Depression and Anxiety Around Pregnancy
Depression and anxiety can happen during pregnancy or after birth. Learn the signs and how to get help.
Pregnancy and a new baby can bring a range of emotions. In fact, many women feel overwhelmed, sad, or anxious at different times during their pregnancy and even after the baby is born. For many women, these feelings go away on their own. But for some women, these emotions are more serious and may stay for some time.
Depression and anxiety that happen during pregnancy or anytime during the first year after the birth of your baby are medical conditions. These feelings are not something you caused by doing or not doing something. And, they can be treated if you seek help.
Depression—feeling sad, empty, and/or “down”—and
anxiety—feeling nervous, worried, and/or scared—are serious medical conditions that involve the brain and may occur during pregnancy or after birth.
“I felt like I was supposed to be happy because I had a new baby, but I was putting on a happy face for everyone else.” These feelings go beyond what people may experience when they have a bad day or are nervous about an upcoming event. They are also more than “just feeling moody” or having the “baby blues.”
Depression and anxiety may get in the way of doing everyday activities, like taking care of yourself and your baby. They are long lasting and won’t go away on their own. But they are treatable, which is why it’s important to get help.
Postpartum depression is one name you might hear for depression and anxiety that can happen during and after pregnancy. But it might not be the best way to describe what women feel.
The word "postpartum" means "after birth," so "postpartum depression" is talking only about depression after the baby is born. For many women, this term is correct: they start feeling depression sometime within the first year after they have the baby.
But research shows that some women start to feel depression while they're still pregnant. You might hear the term "perinatal depression" to describe this situation. The word "perinatal" describes the time during pregnancy or just after birth.
Researchers believe that depression is one of the most common problems women experience during and after pregnancy.
We now know that women may also experience anxiety around the time of pregnancy, beyond just being nervous about having a baby. Anxiety during and after pregnancy is as common as depression and may even happen at the same time as depression. So, you also may hear "perinatal depression and anxiety" or "perinatal mood and anxiety disorders" used to describe all of what women might feel.
No matter what you call them, depression and anxiety that happen during pregnancy or after birth are real medical conditions, and they affect many women.
Women with depression or anxiety around pregnancy tell us that they feel:
They also often have:
As mentioned above, researchers believe that depression is one of the most common problems women experience during and after pregnancy. According to a national survey, about 1 in 8 women experiences postpartum depression after having a baby.
Anxiety during and after pregnancy is as common as depression and may happen at the same time as depression.
You may feel like you're the only person in the world who feels depressed and anxious during pregnancy or after your baby is born, but you are not alone.
Depression and anxiety during pregnancy or after birth can happen to anyone. However, several factors make some women more likely than others to experience one or both of these conditions. These risk factors include:
Depression and anxiety during pregnancy or after birth don't happen because of something you do or don't do—they are medical conditions. Although we don't fully understand the causes of these conditions, researchers think depression and anxiety during this time may result from a mix of physical, emotional, and environmental factors.
Yes—these medical conditions can affect your baby, but not directly. Early mother-child bonding is important for your baby's development and becoming close to your baby is a big part of that bonding. When you have depression or anxiety during pregnancy or after birth, it can be hard to become close to your baby. You may not be able to respond to what your baby needs. And, if there are older children in the house, they may be missing your support as well.
Early treatment is important for you, your baby, and the rest of your family. The sooner you start, the more quickly you will start to feel better.
Yes, there are treatments, and they can help you feel better. Treatment can reduce your symptoms or make them go away completely.
Many treatment options are available for depression or anxiety during pregnancy or after birth. Some women may participate in counseling ("talk therapy"); others may need medication. There is no single treatment that works for everyone.
Your provider may ask you a set of questions, called a screening, to learn more about what you are feeling. Together, you can find the treatment that is right for you. Some treatments for depression and anxiety that occur during or after pregnancy are listed below.
Counseling ("Talk Therapy")
Some women find it helpful to talk about their concerns or feelings with a mental health provider. Your provider can help you find ways to manage your feelings and to make changes to help ease the depression or anxiety.
Several medications can treat depression and anxiety effectively and are safe for pregnant women and for breastfeeding moms and their babies. Talk with a health care provider about medications that may be right for you. You can also visit the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration to learn about drugs and their possible effects on a breastfed baby.
There are some things you can do, in addition to treatment, that may help you feel better.
Currently, there is no known way to prevent depression or anxiety that occurs during pregnancy or after the birth of your baby. But knowing what signs and symptoms to watch for during and after pregnancy can help you prepare and get help quickly. Here's what you can do:
Remember, depression and anxiety that happen during pregnancy or after the birth of your baby are not things you cause—they are medical conditions that require medical care.
Learn why a pregnancy is now considered "full term" at
Learn why allowing baby to remain in the womb until at least 39 weeks, if possible, is safest for both baby and mother.