May, 2014: Postpartum Depression Awareness Month

Did you know that May is Postpartum Depression Awareness Month in the state of Michigan?  May, 2014 has been proclaimed Postpartum Depression Awareness Month by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

For many women and their families, pregnancy and the birth of a child are times of joy and celebration. However, for some women, this can be a sad, frightening and isolating experience.

Depression During Pregnancy

Depression can be confusing for women when it occurs during pregnancy, since having a baby is commonly expected to be a very happy occasion.  Yet almost 1 in 10 pregnant women will experience depression.  It is easy to attribute symptoms of depression to the pregnancy itself, which is why depression is sometimes misdiagnosed or ignored in pregnant women, causing them to suffer needlessly.  Left untreated, severe depression can have long-term consequences for both mother and baby. Lack of proper nutrition, adequate rest, or prenatal care may contribute to premature births and low birth-weight infants. And studies have also shown that postpartum depression is more likely to occur if depression during pregnancy goes untreated.

Postpartum Depression

Women are especially vulnerable to depression in the period immediately following childbirth.  By some estimates, up to 80% of women experience a phenomenon called “postpartum blues,” characterized by extreme sensitivity, moodiness and sleep problems.  In most cases, this problem resolves itself within one to two weeks of giving birth without requiring treatment.

For some women, mood symptoms or anxiety continue and cause a great deal of distress. The problem often begins within a few days of giving birth, and continues and grows worse for weeks or months.  This is called Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Anxiety. Postpartum depression affects nearly 20 percent of families who have infants, and many more cases go unreported or undiagnosed; and untreated.  Over 2,500 women and their families are affected by postpartum depression each year in Michigan.

They are not alone, and there is help available.

The Women and Infants Mental Health Clinic

The Department of Ambulatory Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Health System created a multidisciplinary team to provide a range of clinical services to women experiencing depression, anxiety or related disorders.

The Women and Infants Mental Health (WIMH) Program was created to address the distinct mental wellness needs of women. WIMH clinicians provide both consultation and continuing care for women and their children. The team brings together specialists from many disciplines to provide a range of services for women experiencing low moods, anxiety, or trauma-related difficulties around the time of childbearing, infertility, or following a loss. Clinicians also offer care to women experiencing premenstrual irritability or difficult moods during early menopause. They encourage the involvement of fathers, partners, and other key supports whenever possible.

As part of an academic medical center with a dynamic research enterprise, the WIMH Program’s services benefit from faculty and staff steeped in the field’s latest knowledge and engaged in their own research to evaluate, improve, and refine the care they provide. Much of the WIMH program’s research looks at the effects of mental health issues (particularly trauma, PTSD, and depression) on the parent-child relationship and effective ways to intervene and provide support during the critical period around childbirth, including enhancing parenting and bonding with a strengths-based approach.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety, please contact a health-care professional or visit the University of Michigan for more information, resources, and details about local support groups.

To learn more, click here.


If you are having a Psychiatric Emergency

Call (734) 936-5900 or 911