Caring for Women with Maternal Depression

According to the National Institutes of Health, 50 to 80 percent of women suffer from the "baby blues" after childbirth. They may feel a little depressed, have a hard time concentrating, lose their appetite or find that they can't sleep well even when the baby is asleep. These symptoms usually go away within 10 days after delivery. This condition is considered a normal part of early motherhood.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is an illness like diabetes or heart disease. According to the National Institutes of Health, it affects 10-15 percent of women. Many become depressed right after childbirth, but some women don't feel "down" until later. Depression that occurs within six months of childbirth may be postpartum depression. The period of time that this depression lasts can vary. Some women feel better within a few weeks, but others don't feel like themselves for many months.

Who Develops Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is more likely if you have any of the following:

  • Previous postpartum depression
  • Depression not related to pregnancy
  • Severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • A difficult marriage
  • Few family members or friends for support
  • Stressful life events during the pregnancy or after childbirth

You may wonder, "Why do women get postpartum depression?" The exact cause is not known. Hormone levels change during pregnancy and right after childbirth. These hormone changes may produce chemical changes in the brain that play a part in causing depression.

Feeling depressed doesn't mean that you are a bad person, or that you did something wrong or brought this upon yourself. It is important to remember that help is available and that you can get better.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in life
  • Loss of appetite
  • Less energy and motivation to do things
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Increased crying or tearfulness
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless or overly guilty
  • Feeling restless, irritable or anxious
  • Feeling like life isn't worth living
  • Feelings of not being a good mother
  • Feelings of disinterest or being overprotective toward the baby
  • Having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby

Postpartum depression can be treated with counseling, support groups and medication. The St. Joseph Hospital "Caring for Women with Maternal Depression Program" is managed by a highly skilled team of psychiatrists, licensed clinical social workers and marriage family therapists who provide comprehensive help and support to women who suffer from postpartum depression.

Getting Help at St. Joseph Hospital

The Caring for Women with Maternal Depression Program is part of the comprehensive services and support that St. Joseph Hospital provides to their patients and the larger community. In fact,100 percent of mothers who deliver at St. Joseph Hospital are screened for postpartum depression through the Bridges for Newborns Program. We also work in collaboration with Maternal Outreach Management System (MOMS) to provide services for our Spanish-speaking patients.

Himasiri DeSilva, MD, the program's Outpatient Medical Director, has been instrumental in educating other medical professionals about symptoms of postpartum depression, as well as treatment for women who suffer from this condition.

Our program Includes:

  • Individual and group counseling sessions
    • Including a bilingual/bicultural therapist
  • New Mother's Group
  • Continuing Mother's Group
  • Postpartum Dad's Group

Contact us at 714-771-8101 if you need any assistance.