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Women of every age, income level, culture and ethnicity can experience emotional changes during pregnancy and up to one year after giving birth. Doctors call these changes perinatal mood disorders.
It is estimated that 15 to 21 percent of pregnant women experience a mood disorder. About one of five women suffer from postpartum depression following childbirth.

After childbirth, everyone expects a mom to be joyful, but many do not feel joy. Many women have no knowledge that emotional changes can occur during pregnancy. Unprepared to deal with different feelings and symptoms, women often suffer alone - in silence and confusion.

There are a wide variety and combination of symptoms that women can experience. One woman’s symptoms may be completely different from the next. A mother may even experience a different set of symptoms with each pregnancy.

Women experiencing a perinatal mood disorder know that something is wrong. They feel different but they do not know why. Family and friends notice a change, but are unsure of what to do.

Common symptoms include:
  • Extreme changes in appetite.
  • Insomnia.
  • Inability to concentrate – a “foggy” feeling.
  • Excessive worry.
  • Irritability.
  • Anger.
  • Uncontrolled crying.
  • Prolonged sadness.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Prolonged fatigue.
  • A feeling of emptiness.
  • Scary intrusive thoughts.
  • Physical symptoms.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms help is available. You do not have to suffer alone. Seek treatment early – feel better soon.

  1. Call your doctor right away.
  2. Find a therapist who specializes in the treatment of Perinatal Mood Disorders.
  3. Ask family and friends for help at home – laundry, meals, babysitting.
  4. Learn about the Dealing with Feelings: Pregnancy and Postpartum Mood Disorders support group for women who are pregnant or mothers with babies up to 1 year of age. (This support group is in the Springfield, IL area.) If outside of Springfield, IL, find a support group near you.
  5. Find support and answers from people, books and websites you can trust. 

If you are a family member and notice these symptoms in a woman who is pregnant or has delivered a baby in the past year, encourage her to seek help immediately. Offer to help with laundry, meals, babysitting or whatever she needs – until she feels better.

Parent Help Line does not give medical, religious or legal advice.

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