By Guest Blogger, Amanda M. Mitchell, Ph.D.
Pregnancy and the postpartum period can be filled with many emotions, reactions, and changes. Some people may be surprised to hear that 6.5% to 12.9% of women experience major or minor depression during pregnancy or the first year of postpartum (1). Depression can look like a collection of many different symptoms, including sadness, difficulty concentrating, guilt, and loss of interest in activities.
Depressive symptoms may be difficult to share or describe to other people, especially during pregnancy or postpartum. However, it is important that women with depression and their families are able to get the support and help they need. Studies from our lab have shown that depressive symptoms can negatively affect women’s health, including pregnancy outcomes such as birth weight (2,3). Other studies have found that depressive symptoms can negatively affect the transition into parenthood (4).
If you or someone you know is experiencing depression during pregnancy or postpartum, encourage them to reach out for professional support.
Other coping strategies to help with daily stress include:
- Doing something you enjoy, such as hanging out with family and/or friends
- Finding a relaxing activity (e.g., music, mindfulness)
- Connecting with other women who are pregnant or recently had a baby
- Seeking professional support to help with transitions during pregnancy and postpartum
- Gavin, N. I., Gaynes, B. N., Lohr, K. N., Meltzer-Brody, S., Gartlehner, G., & Swinson, T. (2005). Perinatal depression: a systematic review of prevalence and incidence. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 106, 1071-1083.
- Christian, L. M. (2014). Effects of stress and depression on inflammatory immune parameters in pregnancy. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 211, 275-277.
- Mitchell, A. M., & Christian, L. M. (under review). Pathways linking financial strain to birth weight: The roles of race, depressive symptoms, and pregnancy-specific distress.
- Paulson, J. F., Dauber, S., & Leiferman, J. A. (2006). Individual and combined effects of postpartum depression in mothers and fathers on parenting behavior. Pediatrics, 118, 659-668.
Dr. Mitchell is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Stress and Health in Pregnancy lab (https://stressandpregnancy.osumc.edu) housed in the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She received her doctorate in Counseling Psychology at the University of Louisville and completed an APA-accredited internship at the University of Utah Counseling Center. Her research examines links among cognitive and systemic coping strategies with neuroendocrine and immune functioning in the context of chronic stress.