Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can affect a birthing person, and also their partner, after childbirth. People with postpartum depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that may make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or for others.
Only a health care provider can diagnose a person with postpartum depression. Because symptoms of this condition are broad and may vary between individuals, a health care provider can help a them figure out whether the symptoms they are feeling are due to postpartum depression or something else. A person who experiences any of these symptoms should see a health care provider right away.
- Affects 80 percent of new mothers/birthing parents
- Occurs between the third day and second or third week postpartum
- Is considered NORMAL
- Mild symptoms. Lasts 1-2 weeks and goes away on its own
- Indicators: crying for no reason; feelings of dependency, impatience, irritability, anxiety; temporary mild depression
- Affects 15- 20 percent of new mothers/ birthing parents
- Occurs anytime up to a year postpartum
- Lasts for at least two weeks
- It is critical that family members seek help for their loved one.
- Indicators: physical complaints without physical cause; changes in appetite or weight; sleeping too much or too little; l loss of interest in activities; irritability or short temper; feelings of anxiety, worthlessness, guilt, anger, sadness, hopelessness, overwhelmed; difficulty in concentrating; extreme worry about the baby’s and/or their own health; recurring thoughts of death or suicidal ideation.
Postpartum Onset Anxiety/Panic Disorder
- Affects 10 percent of new mothers/birthing parents
- Indicators: panic attacks (sudden episodes of extreme anxiety or fear, accompanied by accelerated breathing and heart rate, constriction in chest and throat, chest pain); nausea, hot or cold flashes, trembling; fear of losing control, of going crazy, of dying
Postpartum Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder
- Affects 3-5 percent of new mothers/birthing parents
- Often occurs with postpartum depression
- Mother is not at risk of actually harming baby, except by neglect or avoidance based on fear of causing harm
- Indicators: repetitive, intrusive thoughts and violent images of harming baby; awareness that thoughts are irrational, .with a sense of horror and shame about them; hyper-vigilance in protecting baby; repetitive behaviors such as counting, checking, frequent hand-washing, obsessive neatness
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Affects 1-3 percent of new mothers/birthing parents
- Occurs following childbirth, especially in women who experienced ad history of childhood abuse and/or had a traumatic childbirth experience
- Indicators: extreme anxiety; persistent re-experiencing of traumatic events; avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma; numbness; hyper-arousal, insomnia, jumpiness and heightened startle response; nightmares
- Affects 0.1-0.2 percent of new mothers/birthing parents
- Occurs usually in the first week postpartum, with sudden onset
- Risk of suicide and/or infanticide
- Indicators: rapid speech; visual or auditory hallucinations, delusions, delirium, mania, extreme agitation, inability to sleep, irrational speech or paranoia.
PPP is a medical emergency for which aggressive treatment is critical.
Postpartum Depression in Men
Common signs of postpartum depression and anxiety in men are:
- Increased anger and conflict with others
- Increased use of alcohol or prescription/street drugs
- Frustration or irritability
- Violent behavior
- Significant weight gain or loss
- Isolation from family and friends
- Being easily stressed
- Impulsiveness or risk-taking (this kind of behavior can include reckless driving or extramarital affairs)
- Feeling discouraged; cynicism
- Increase in complaints about physical problems, like headaches, digestion problems or pain
- Problems with concentration or motivation
- Loss of interest in work, hobbies and/or sex
- Working constantly
- Concerns about productivity and functioning at work or school
- Feeling sad or crying for no reason
- Conflict between how you feel you should be as a man and how you are
- Thoughts of suicide or death
AHN Women's Behavioral Health
Alexis Joy D’Achille Center for Perinatal Mental Health
West Penn Hospital
4800 Friendship Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Magee Women’s Behavioral Health
These services are only open to Magee patients, because of small staff. It’s best to be referred by a Magee staff member. Pregnancy and 1 year postpartum for individual therapy and psych medication.
Located at 100 N. Bellefield Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15215 (Oakland) Self referral acceptable when requesting general evaluation/individual therapy through WPIC (Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC). Explain your situation and ask for the first available appointment. Intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization and individual therapy/evaluation services are available.
Psychiatrists with perinatal expertise are available to consult with PCP, OC, midwives, etc. regarding medications in the perinatal period. Prescribing professionals may contact these psychiatrists by email (through the UPMC Health System) to set up a time to discuss individual patient situations.
Please call us for a referral.
Emily Weisser, LPC, NCC
301 Ohio River Boulevard, Suite 304
Sewickley, PA 15143
Naomi Greenberg, LCSW
801 North Negley Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15206
Johanna Lux, MSW, LCSW
6315 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15217