It’s OK to NOT be OK…
If you or someone you know is experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, grief, worry, anger, or suicide, contact a crisis line, 24 hours a day, seven days a week:
Mental Health Crisis Line (Ages 16 or older)
Child, Youth and Family Crisis Line (Ages 18 and under)
Fact Sheet – Responding to Stressful Events
Mental Health and Addiction Clinics/Events Calendar – see below.
ConnexOntario – 1-866-531-2600
Addiction, Mental Health, and Problem Gambling Treatment Services
Free, confidential health services/information 24/7 – call, chat, email, or access directory of services.
eMentalHealth.ca – Mental Health Services, Help and Support in Your Community (Children, Youth, and Families)
Provides anonymous, confidential and trustworthy information, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Features include:
- Mental Health Help (i.e. directory of mental health services and organizations)
- Info Sheets
- Screening Tools
- Events Calendar
- News Feed
- Research directory
Depression/Anxiety in Pregnancy
We often hear about postpartum (after birth) depression, but depression can actually begin in pregnancy. One in five women report feeling depressed and/or anxious during pregnancy. Pregnant women who are worried about their moods are encouraged to talk to their health care provider. Treating depression and/or anxiety in pregnancy can reduce the risk of depression after the baby is born.
The first few weeks after the birth of a baby can be exciting but can also be stressful for a new mother and her family. About 80% or mothers feel the “baby blues” or postpartum blues three to five days after giving birth. A woman who is experiencing baby blues may:
- feel happy one minute and sad the next;
- feel helpless, worried, irritable or anxious;
- cry for what seems like no reason;
- have trouble sleeping and more.
These are normal feelings when women have postpartum blues. Usually they get better or go away within a week or two. However, if a woman’s mood does not improve after two weeks of giving birth, she may be experiencing postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression affects a woman’s mood, behaviour, thoughts and physical well-being. It can occur at anytime during the first year after baby is born but usually exhibit symptoms in the early postpartum period. A woman who is experiencing depression may:
- have little or no interest or enjoyment in things she used to enjoy;
- feel sad most of the time;
- feel anxious or worried, guilty and ashamed, alone, panicky, frustrated, angry and irritable, worthless, hopeless;
- have no energy;
- have a poor appetite or feel like eating all the time;
- be unable to concentrate;
- cry for no apparent reason;
- sleep too much or too little and more.
Many women who experience postpartum depression will also have anxiety. Other times, women experience symptoms of anxiety without being depressed. A woman who is experiencing anxiety may:
- have a racing heart;
- feel on edge;
- have too much or unrealistic worry
- have upsetting thoughts or images of harm to the baby.
In extremely rare cases, women develop psychosis after giving birth. A woman who is experiencing psychosis may:
- feel extremely confused and hopeless;
- Not be able to sleep;
- distrust other people;
- see things or hear things that are not there;
- have thoughts of harming oneself, the baby or others.
This is a medical emergency. Immediate assistance and treatment are needed.
Postpartum Mood Disorders Risk Factors
Some women have a higher risk of developing a postpartum mood disorder. The most common reasons are when a woman:
- experienced depression or anxiety in the past;
- has a family member who has had depression or anxiety;
- has too little support from friends, family and community;
- had a recent stressful life event such as a move or a loss in the family;
- has repeated or constant stress (i.e.; work, finances, housing, life circumstances, relationships);
- and has relationship difficulties with close family member(s).
What a Woman Can Do
There are many things a woman can do to benefit her emotional health:
- don’t feel embarrassed, ashamed or guilty – it’s not your fault;
- ask for help;
- take care of herself – eat healthy; get rest, fresh air and exercise; take time for herself;
- talk to someone you trust;
- seek assessment and treatment from her health care provider;
- and consider treatment options like counselling and medication.
Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale
A woman may find it helpful to complete the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale. It is a short questionnaire that checks for postpartum depression. New mothers can easily complete and score it at home and then take it to their health care provider to talk about how she is feeling. It is important for a woman to tell their Health Care Provider all the symptoms she is experiencing so that all available support and treatment options are considered.
Support from Partners, Friends and Family
Partner, friends and family support is also very important for a woman with a postpartum mood disorder. They can:
- listen to a mother’s concerns;
- help her make decisions;
- comfort her;
- help with practical things like looking after children and household chores and more.
- Your health care provider
- Mental Health Crisis Line (1-866-996-0991)
- ConnexOntario (1-866-531-2600)
- Best Start Resource Centre
- Managing Depression: A self-help skills resource for women living with depression during pregnancy, after delivery and beyond (PDF 57 pages, 1,923 KB)