Pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting a new baby come with lots of emotional ups and downs – for moms, dads, and other family members too. If you or someone you care about is experiencing perinatal depression or anxiety, it can be confusing and even frightening.
You are not alone; many families facing these problems struggle to understand what is going on, or how to get help.
On this page:
About perinatal depression and anxiety
Perinatal mental health disorders occur during pregnancy and in the first year after birth. These disorders include prenatal and postpartum depression, anxiety and panic disorders, and postpartum psychosis. In Oregon, one in four women report symptoms of depression either during pregnancy or in the year after the birth of a baby.
Unfortunately, perinatal depression and anxiety often go unrecognized and untreated, impacting the whole family. Effective assessment, treatment, and support services are available. If you are concerned about someone you know, reach out for help. Call your medical provider or find help in Oregon.
The following may be signs of perinatal depression or anxiety:
- Trouble sleeping, or sleeping too much
- Changes in appetite – eating much more or much less
- Feeling irritable, angry, or nervous
- Feeling exhausted
- Not enjoying life as much as in the past
- Lack of interest in baby, friends, family
- Low or no sex drive
- Feeling guilty, worthless or hopeless
- Crying uncontrollably
- Feelings of being a bad mother
- Trouble concentrating
- Low energy
- Thoughts of harming the baby or yourself
Learn more about perinatal depression and anxiety.
How to support a new mom
Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are temporary and treatable.
Support from dads, partners, family, and friends, is vital to helping a
mother cope with her depression, and recover.
How you can help:
- Remember that it is not her fault and she is not in full control of her emotions right now
- Remind her everyday that she is a good mom and she will get better
- Support her by helping around the house and with the baby
- Give her baby breaks
- Encourage her to work with a medical professional to develop a self-care plan and stick to it
- Take care of yourself too
Online resources to help support a new mom:
Support for dads, partners, family, and friends
When someone you care about has perinatal depression or anxiety, you may feel like it takes all your time and energy just to keep afloat. Taking care of yourself and getting support from others will help you to take better care of your family and get through this hard time.
Taking care of yourself:
- Develop a support team for your family. Ask for help. Say YES when they offer.
- Take time for yourself.
- Talk to other families who have come through this.
- Spend time with your baby to develop your own confidence.
Online Resources to support dads and partners:
- Postpartum Dads offers support, information, and resources for men who know women with perinatal mood or anxiety disorders
- www.postpartum.net Postpartum Support International’s page for partners and family
- Dads Video
Depression and anxiety in fathers and partners
Fathers and partners can get perinatal depression and anxiety too. Men who are new parents are twice as likely to have depression as men in the general population. It can be hard to ask for help, and it is important to know you are not alone.
If you think you have depression or anxiety:
- Take a brief depression self-assessment quiz
- Talk to your doctor or someone you trust about what’s going on.
- Call one of the numbers below for help.
- If you don’t feel like yourself, it’s important that you speak up and reach out for help.
Postpartummen.com offers information and support for men with postpartum depression.