Begin typing your search above and press return to search.

Perinatal Depression: Causes, Symptoms and Precautionary Measures

The time during and post-pregnancy is referred to as "perinatal". Perinatal depression, a mood disorder, comprises of prenatal and postpartum depression. Prenatal depression refers to depression that occurs during pregnancy, while postpartum depression is the depression that starts after the birth of the baby.

Perinatal Depression: Causes, Symptoms and Precautionary Measures

Sentinel Digital Desk

The pregnancy period is a sensitive period. It demands utmost care and attention. A pregnant women is prone to various physical and emotional turmoil. They experience a wide range of emotions that arises from the pressure of holding a life inside of them. The psychological influence of motherhood sometimes even take a toll on a woman's mental health. Perinatal Depression is one such kind of mental health problem, that pregnant women often falls prey to.

Depression which occurs during or after pregnancy is referred to as Perinatal Depression. The symptoms ranges from mild to severe. Symptoms of perinatal depression are capable of being severe to the extent where the health of the mother and baby may be at risk. However, it is not all bad. Treatments to perinatal depression do exist.

The time during and post-pregnancy is referred to as "perinatal". Perinatal depression, a mood disorder, comprises of prenatal and postpartum depression. Prenatal depression refers to depression that occurs during pregnancy, while postpartum depression is the depression that starts after the birth of the baby.

A mother who suffers from perinatal depression experiences extreme sadness, feelings of anxiety, and fatigue. This makes it difficult for them to go on with their daily activities and to carry themselves or others.


Irrespective of their age, race, income, culture, or education, any mother can suffer from perinatal depression. It is a real illness and should not be ignored. This mood disorder is not caused by any activity that the mother does. They are not faulty or the one to blame for having perinatal depression. Perinatal depression happens because of multiple reasons. According to researchers, perinatal depression is caused by an accumulation of genetic and environmental factors. Life stress such as demands at work or experiences of past trauma, the physical and emotional demands that comes along with childbearing and caring for a newborn, and changes in hormones that occur during and after pregnancy are facilitators to the occurrence of perinatal depression. Additionally, a women who has a personal or family history of depression or bipolar disorder or if they have experienced perinatal depression with a previous pregnancy, they are more prone to developing perinatal depression.

Signs and Symptoms

Some women experience a few symptoms of perinatal depression while others experince several symptoms. Some of the common symptoms are: Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood; irritability; feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, or helplessness; loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities; fatigue or abnormal decrease in energy; feeling restless or having trouble sitting still; difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; difficulty sleeping (even when the baby is sleeping), awakening early in the morning, or oversleeping; abnormal appetite, weight changes, or both; aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not have a clear physical cause or do not ease even with treatment; trouble bonding or forming an emotional attachment with the new baby; persistent doubts about the ability to care for the new baby; and thoughts about death, suicide, or harming oneself or the baby.

Only a health care provider can help a woman determine whether the symptoms she is feeling are due to perinatal depression or something else. It is important for women who experience any of these symptoms to see a health care provider.


Perinatal depression can inflict serious effects on both the mother and child. Thus, it is very important to treat it at the earliest. Proper treatments lead to improvement in symptoms in the women undergoing perinatal depression.

Therapy, medications, or a combination of both are usually the treatment methods for perinatal depression. In situations, where one does not experience reduction in the symptoms by the mentioned treatment methods, they can go with brain stimulation therapies, such as electroconvulsive therapy. A health care professional will be able to help a can women choose the best treatment based on the symptoms she showcases.


Various form of psychotherapy, also called as ''talk therapy'' or ''counselling'', are capable of helping a women with perinatal depression. Two such evidence-based approaches of psychotherapy which have been used in treating perinatal depression include cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps people with depression and anxiety by showing them how to figure out different perspectives. It helps them learn different ways of thinking, behaving, and reactions to situations. People who undertake CBT learn how to change unhelpful patterns of thinking and behavior. They also becomes capable of challenging these behaviour and consequently improving their depressive and anxious feelings and emotions. CBT is done individually or in a group with people experiencing the same concerns.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

IPT is an evidence-based therapy that has been in use for treatment of depression, including perinatal depression. It believes that interpersonal and life events have a significant influence on a person's mood and vice versa. IPT's motive is to help people improve their skills in communication within relationships and essentially develop social support networks. This in return will lead to the development of realistic expectations, which later helps a person deal with the crisis and issues that are contributors to their depression.

Medication for perinatal depression mostly includes antidepressants, which are used to treat depression. These medications enhance the way the brain uses certain chemicals in controlling mood and stress. However, pregnant and breastfeeding women need to inform their health professional before taking antidepressants so that they can work on minimizing the baby's exposure to the medications.

Babies of mother's who takes antidepressants are prone to risk of birth defects and other problems, however this risk is very low. Even then, a women should consult a health professional to manage the risks and benefits of treatment in the best possible way.

Antidepressants take a period of 6 to 9 weeks to show its effects. A person's appetite, sleep and concentration problems improves prior to improvement in mood.

It is not advised not to stop antidepressant's intake without consulting with a health professional. In such cases, depression returns and a person also shows withdrawal symptoms.

A women also experiences drop in certain hormones post-birth of her baby, which results in depression. The medications used in this case tries to restore the levels of these hormones.

A pregnant mother's family plays a crucial role during the time of her pregnancy. Depression is a medical condition and it effects the mother, the baby and also the child. Thus, family members can encourage the mother to approach healthcare professionals and also offer emotional support.

Also Read: Padma Shri Lakhimi Baruah: The Woman Banker Inspiring Women to Chase their Dreams and Turn Them into Reality

Also Watch:

Next Story
Jobs in Assam
Jobs in Rest of NE
Top Headlines
Assam News