Learn to Recognize Maternal Depression

Maternal depression encompasses a range of emotions experienced by pregnant and postpartum women as they plan for and welcome a new baby. Many women encounter what is commonly referred to as the “baby blues” postpartum (after they give birth). During childbirth, perinatal mood disorders (PMD) are the most frequently occurring complications and often begin during pregnancy.

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Depression Screening Tool

In addressing maternal depression, it is important for communities to consider a mother’s unique circumstances and work on removing the barriers that impact her well-being and get in the way of seeking necessary help. Barriers to healthcare, such as lack of insurance, mental illness stigma, lack of diversity or cultural competency among mental health care providers, or language barriers, greatly affect members of diverse ethnic/racial groups. As a result, certain minority groups are at higher risk for maternal depression, including adolescent women of Latina descent and immigrant populations.

In New Mexico, women who experienced postpartum depression were three times more likely to have six or more stressors during the 12 months before their baby was born than women without postpartum depression, including:

  • Partner stress (e.g., divorce)
  • Financial stress (e.g., lost job)
  • Traumatic stress (e.g., close person had drug or alcohol problem)
  • Emotional stress (e.g., close family member was very sick).

According to the National Institutes of Health, without proper care and support, some pregnant and postpartum mothers can face one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of anxiety, depression, guilt, isolation, and/or inadequacy that do not resolve
  • Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed
  • Crying more often than usual or for no apparent reason
  • Worrying or feeling overly anxious
  • Feeling moody, irritable, or restless
  • Oversleeping, or being unable to sleep even when baby is asleep
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Experiencing anger or rage
  • Losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
  • Suffering from physical aches and pains, including frequent headaches, stomach problems, and muscle pain
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family
  • Having trouble bonding or forming an emotional attachment with one’s baby
  • Persistently doubting one’s ability to care for one’s baby
  • Thinking about harming oneself or one’s baby

If you or a loved one are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it is important to get help. All mothers, fathers, and families deserve support during pregnancy and parenthood. The New Mexico Department of Human Services Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD) actively supports maternal health treatment through providers. Maternal depression is a treatable condition, with full recovery possible with the right assistance.

Find a provider by searching the BHSD Treatment Connection website: https://www.treatmentconnection.com or call 833-275-2043.

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Additional Resources

BHSD Treatment Connection

Are you Seeking Mental Health Treatment? Find help now with our state-vetted treatment providers. All searches are confidential.

Postpartum Support International

PSI-NM is the New Mexico state chapter of Postpartum Support International (PSI), the world’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to helping those suffering from perinatal mood disorders, the most common complication of childbirth.

Minority Healthcare Support

Find mental health resources for underrepresented communities.

Maternal Depression Guide

Maternal depression is a widespread public health issue that takes a toll on the well-being and livelihood of mothers and their families. It demands a strong community response involving people who share a common vision to strengthen the health and resilience of all mothers and families in need of help and support.

Mom’s Mental Health Matters

Pregnancy and a new baby can bring a range of emotions. In fact, many women feel overwhelmed, sad, or anxious at different times during their pregnancy and even after the baby is born. For many women, these feelings go away on their own. But for some women, these emotions are more serious and may stay for some time.

Identifying Maternal Depression

Pregnancy can be an exciting time in a woman’s life, but it can also bring challenges. Many women experience the baby blues after giving birth, and some women develop symptoms of depression that are more intense, long lasting, and can interfere with daily activities.