Depression is a condition that affects women, during their reproductive years, twice as often as men. (1) It is important for women who are experiencing depression during pregnancy to get help since it has been shown that depression can not only affect the mother, but the infant as well. Maternal depression can lead to preterm birth as well as low birth weight in the infant.
It is important for women with a history of depression to continue taking their antidepressant medication during pregnancy. Depression is linked to an increase in maternal morbidity. (2) Women with untreated depression are more likely to inflict self injury or to have suicidal behaviors. They also are more likely to stop taking care of themselves and be non-compliant with prenatal care.
Symptoms of Depression:
Bizarre statements (i.e. “my child would be better off without me”)
Having a short temper
The incidence of depression of new mothers in the postpartum period is usually between 10 and 20%. It is important to note that postpartum depression can affect women of all races and social groups and not only middle class white women.
*Postpartum depression in new mothers is not serious and will go away on its own.
*Women with postpartum depression cannot breastfeed
*Postpartum depression is more common in white middle class women
1. Bennett IM, Marcus SC, Palmer SC, Coyne JC. Pregnancy-related discontinuation of antidepressants and depression care visits among Medicaid recipients. Psychiatr Serv. Apr;61(4):386-391.
2. Cohen L. Mood and Anxiety Disorders during Pregnancy and Postpartum. 2005:9-11.