Perinatal Mental Health

Depression and Anxiety During and After Pregnancy

A woman’s body and mind go through many changes during and after pregnancy. Mood complications that occur during pregnancy or after having a baby are called perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety occur following pregnancy or childbirth.

About 27% of women during or after their pregnancy in Rhode Island experience depression that’s more intense and lasts longer than “baby blues,” the term commonly used to describe feelings of worry, sadness, and tiredness that many women get after having a baby. “Baby blues” symptoms typically resolve on their own within 1-2 weeks, while depression lasts longer.

Many women also experience anxiety during pregnancy or after childbirth. This can result in excessive worries and fears about the baby’s wellbeing, upsetting thoughts that something bad will happen, feelings of panic or loss of control, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

Some women may experience a mixture of both anxiety and depression symptoms, while others may only experience one. In either instance, it is common for a woman to have a hard time sleeping or eating, as well as difficulty bonding with baby.

Women can experience a wide range of symptoms and risk factors can be very different too. Learn more

When to Get help

If you feel empty, emotionless, or sad all or most of the time for longer than two weeks during or after pregnancy, reach out for help. If you feel disconnected from your baby, you might be suffering from perinatal depression. If you feel consistently worried, panicky, or overly concerned about you or your baby’s health or safety, you may be experiencing perinatal anxiety. Don’t suffer in silence. Treatment for perinatal depression and anxiety, such as therapy or medicine, works and will help you and your baby be as healthy as possible in the future.

How to Get Help

  • Call your doctor, nurse, or midwife, and tell them how you are feeling. They may refer you to therapy or prescribe a medicine that can help you during this time.
  • The Women & Infants Hospital Center for Women's Behavioral Health and Day Hospital can help. Women who have symptoms of perinatal depression may call directly at (401) 453-7955, or (401) 274-1122, ext. 42870. More
  • Talk with family visiting staff or contact your local birthing hospital or insurance plan to ask about other outpatient services near you.
  • Contact the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline, which provides 24/7, free, confidential support before, during, and after pregnancy. Call or text 1-833-943-5746 (1-833-9-HELP4MOMS). TTY users can use a preferred relay service or dial 711 and then 1-833-943-5746.