If you need immediate help, please contact one of the services listed below. Help is available and it is very important that you reach out right now to get the support and information you need to be safe and well.
This is a 24 hours per day, 7 day per week telephone health advice and health information service. Highly trained registered nurses will provide you with advice and information about health concerns that you or a member of your family may be experiencing.
Toll-free: 1-866-408-5465 (LINK)
Edmonton: 780-408-5465 (LINK)
Calgary: 403-943-5465 (LINK)
Mental Health Help Line
This confidential, anonymous service is available 24 hours per day, 7 day per week. It is staffed by health professionals and provides crisis intervention; information on Mental Health programs and services; and referral to other agencies where appropriate.
Toll free: 1-877-303-2642
Adult Crisis Response Services
This is a 24 hours per day, 7 day per week service is staffed by mental health professionals and is available to individuals dealing with emotional or psychiatric crisis. The Adult Crisis Response Service staff provide (1) telephone and/or mobile assessment, intervention and stabilization; (2) consultation/coordination with community agencies and hospitals; and (3) referrals to mental health resources.
Telephone: 780-342-7777 (collect calls are accepted)
The term perinatal means the period “all around” birth. We use it to mean the time between conception (the beginning of pregnancy), throughout pregnancy, to one year after the baby’s birth.
There are several reasons why it can be difficult to recognize or identify perinatal depression or anxiety.
First, new most moms and those close to them expect a period of adjustment after the birth of a baby. It can be hard to know what is ‘normal new mom stuff’ and what are symptoms of depression or anxiety. Some women think that being tired or feeling down, worried or overwhelmed are all part of being a new mom. Others do not want to be seen as complaining or not able to handle motherhood. Still others have never heard of perinatal anxiety or depression and do not have any words to describe what is happening to them. These women tend to blame themselves for not being able to handle things instead of realizing that they have a medical condition.
Second, new moms may feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit that they have a mood or anxiety problem. They fear that admitting to or talking about having negative feelings may result in their children being taken away or they that will be labeled as a bad mother.
Third, each woman is unique and experiences unique symptoms. Some new moms are sad and teary; some feel overwhelmed, irritable, or angry; and some sleep all of the time, while others have insomnia. The ‘up-and-down’ nature of symptoms also makes it difficult to recognize or admit perinatal depression or anxiety
Most new mothers – perhaps as many as 80% – experience mood swings and weepiness during the first 2-3 weeks after giving birth. Sometimes called “the baby blues”, this is a normal adjustment period and resolves without any medical assistance.
It may be. Although the terms ‘postpartum depression’ or PPD are often used to refer to all mood and anxiety problems associated with pregnancy and childbirth, pregnant women or new moms may develop the same mental health problems as any other adult women. These may include anxiety, depression, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and bipolar disorder.
Many pregnant and postpartum moms EXPERIENCE anxiety-related symptoms – feeling irritable, jumpy or nervous, worried, or overwhelmed – rather than depressION. Other symptoms of perinatal anxiety may include sleep problems, low appetite, restlessness, and physical symptoms such as dizziness, rapid heartbeat, or aches and pains. Anxiety is a real condition and it is treatable
During pregnancy or postpartum, as many as 1 in 8 women experiences significant depression, anxiety, recurring negative thoughts, panic, or posttraumatic stress. Some women experience symptoms of a bipolar depression, which is a cyclical depression with periods of very high energy, decreased need for sleep, and changing moods (mania). The least common perinatal mental health problem is postpartum psychosis, which occurs in 1 or 2 per thousand births. In the news and on TV, postpartum psychosis is often called depression, but it is a separate and unique illness.
Women who think they may be experiencing perinatal anxiety or depression should talk to supportive and informed people soon as possible.
She should begin by talking to her healthcare provider (e.g., midwife, doula, public health nurse, family physician, or obstetrician). Some new moms find it helpful to write down how they are feeling and other symptoms before an appointment with their healthcare provider. It may also be helpful to take a supportive person with her to the appointment.
There is no one single cause for perinatal mood and anxiety problems. To the best of our knowledge, these problems develop due to a combination of genetic, biological, social, and psychological factors. Women who have certain risk factors may be more likely to develop perinatal mood and anxiety problems (e.g., a personal or family history of mood or anxiety problems, past or current trauma, past or current stress, or a sensitivity to hormonal changes). Developing a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder is not a woman’s ‘fault’, as she did not do anything to “get” these problems.
A support group can be helpful as a place you can talk with other women who understand what you are experiencing and meet women who have recovered. Support groups are an excellent place to make connections with other new moms and find encouragement and ideas about how to cope. To find a support group near you, ask your healthcare provider, public health nurse, or call HealthLink Alberta [Toll-free: 1-866-408-5465 (LINK); Edmonton: 780-408-5465 (LINK); Calgary: 403-943-5465 (LINK)]
There are several things a new mom can do to help herself feel better including self-care, increasing her social support, talk therapy or counseling, or medication when necessary. Self-care includes getting help with the baby and other children so she can get some extra rest, good nutrition, exercise, relaxation, or time with partner/spouse. Social support includes talking with others – on the telephone, online, or at a support group – who understand and provide encouragement. Talking with a counselor or therapist who understands perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can be extremely beneficial. Finally, medications are available to address both anxiety and depression. New moms often have to try a variety of things to find out what works best for them.
Unlike chicken pox or other communicable infections, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders have no set time frame. It is different for every woman and it depends on many things, including available support and informed health care professionals. Every perinatal mood disorder or anxiety problem – no matter how intense the symptoms – is treatable.
Begin by talking with your healthcare provider, your Public health Nurse, or call HealthLink Alberta. Keeping talking to people until you find the help you need.
There are several medications are available to treat the symptoms of perinatal depression and anxiety. Deciding if you need medication is a decision best made between you and your healthcare provider.
Medications work differently for each woman, so what works well for someone else may not work as well for you. The best medication to treat your symptoms should be decided during a conversation with your family doctor, obstetrician, or Nurse Practitioner. If you have any questions about side-effects or your reaction to medication, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
Many women do take medication for mood or anxiety problems when they are pregnant. Work with an informed provider who prescribes medication to weigh the benefits and risks of the medications versus your symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Women do breastfeed and take medication. It is a decision best made between a new mom and her healthcare provider.
Exercise, massage, meditation or other things that help to relieve tension and stress can bring relief and be part of your wellness plan. Good nutrition and adequate rest will also be helpful. If you are using complementary and traditional medicines, make sure that your healthcare providers know about all medicines or remedies you are taking (even those that you buy without a prescription at a health food or drug store) to make sure that everything works well together.
Unlike having a broken bone or open wound, perinatal mood and anxiety problems are not always obvious to those around us. A new mom might look like she is doing better than she feels. You can explain that some people call postpartum depression “the smiling depression” because moms often try to put on a happy face even when they feel depressed. Don’t feel that you need to tell anyone about your illness unless you are comfortable doing so. If you feel comfortable opening up, you may start out by saying that being a new mom is more difficult than expected, that you are not feeling like your usual self, and do appreciate their support. Some families find helpful information from websites, brochures or books.