About the Center
      About the Director

      Myths of Motherhood
Risk Factors
      For Fathers
Impact on the Couple
10 Key Facts
Symptoms of PPD
      Screening for PPD

10 Key Facts About Maternal Mental Health

  1. It is a myth that pregnancy is a universally glowing, happy time and that new parenthood is "the most wonderful time in your life."
  2. The reality is that symptoms of depression and anxiety occur in ten to twenty percent of expectant and new mothers. This means that these emotional symptoms are the most common complication of pregnancy, affecting up to 800,000 women per year in the USA.
  3. Depression and anxiety during pregnancy can decrease blood flow through the umbilical cord, resulting in low birth weight, small head circumference, and possible effects on the baby's brain development.
  4. Depression and anxiety in the mother after birth can affect the parent-child relationship, resulting in developmental, learning, and behavioral problems in the child.
  5. Postpartum depression is a misnomer; symptoms of anxiety in new mothers are more common.
  6. Women are not to blame! Maternal mental illness is not a weakness, and women cannot will themselves better. Women with a personal or family history of emotional difficulties are at greatest risk.
  7. Warning signs during pregnancy or postpartum includes difficulties with sleeping, eating, or caring for herself or the baby, thoughts about hurting herself or the baby, or intense feelings of energy, anxiety, or sadness.
  8. Postpartum obsessions, thought about harm that can come to the baby, affect 3-5% of new mothers. These thoughts represent no danger to the baby, and can be distinguished from postpartum psychosis, where there is risk for the baby.
  9. Education is the first line of defense, because realistic expectations about new parenthood can decrease the occurrence of depression and anxiety.
  10. Help is available! These disorders are treatable.