If you are pregnant, if you have had a baby within the past year or if you are a new parent, pay attention to any changes in your mood or anxiety levels. These changes could be a sign of a perinatal mental health condition. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, perinatal mental health conditions are the most common issues that pregnant women and new parents experience, but these conditions go untreated or under-treated in many cases.

Quick Facts

Here are some quick facts on perinatal mental health:

  • One in five women are affected by perinatal depression during or after their pregnancy.
  • Perinatal depression can affect anyone of any gender, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, etc.
  • One in 10 men suffer from postpartum depression.
  • Perinatal mental health conditions are three to four times more prevalent in women than gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, but there is no standard for universal screening. UofL Health does screen new moms for postpartum depression before they go home from the hospital and checks back within a few weeks after delivery.
  • 50% of women who are diagnosed with depression do not get the treatment they need.
  • It is estimated that untreated perinatal mental health disorders in the U.S. cost about $14.2 billion for all births.

Perinatal Mental Health Conditions

According to the Mental Health Technology Transfer Center, perinatal mental health conditions can include:

  • Grief after losing a baby
  • Suicide or suicidal thoughts
  • Substance abuse
  • Postpartum psychosis
  • Perinatal bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Perinatal panic disorders
  • Perinatal anxiety disorders
  • Perinatal depression

Risk Factors

The following factors may make you more likely to have perinatal mental health conditions, according to the Maternal Mental Health Alliance:

  • Experiencing trauma during the birth process or at any point in your life
  • Having housing or financial issues
  • Experiencing domestic violence
  • Not having enough support
  • Biological factors
  • Having had mental health problems before


Postpartum psychosis is a medical emergency, according to Action on Postpartum Psychosis. Symptoms include feeling confused, experiencing extreme excitement (mania), experiencing hallucinations (hearing voices or feeling or seeing objects that are not there), experiencing delusions (strong thoughts that other people do not have) and more.

For other perinatal mental health conditions, you can still benefit from treatment. Discuss any mental health changes or concerns you have with your health care provider during or after pregnancy or after becoming a parent to a new child.

You may benefit from individual or group therapy, taking medication or both. It is important to discuss medications with your health care provider since some medications carry risks when being pregnant or breastfeeding.

Also, it is important to practice self-care. Check out these self-care tips.

Above all, remember that any mental health condition you are experiencing is not your fault and you are not alone.

UofL Health Can Help

UofL Physicians – Maternal-Fetal Medicine, part of UofL Physicians – OB/GYN & Women’s Health, is here to support you before, during and after your pregnancy. Call 502-588-4400 to schedule an appointment.

Also, with proper treatment, many expecting or new parents with anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions may have their symptoms and functioning improved and live better lives. UofL Health – Peace Hospital can be reached at 502-451-3333 for a no-cost level-of-care assessment and assistance with treatment options.

If you or your partner experience symptoms of postpartum psychosis, dial 911. If you or your partner experience suicidal thoughts, dial 988.

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Article by: Tiffany Tonismae, M.D., FACOG

Tiffany Tonismae, M.D., FACOG, is a maternal-fetal medicine and high-risk obstetrician with UofL Physicians – OB/GYN & Women’s Health. Dr. Tonismae specializes in high-risk pregnancies that include diabetes and hypertension in pregnancy, multiple gestations and fetal anomalies. She has researched extensively involved management of extremely preterm pregnancies as well as mental health disorders and substance use disorders in pregnancy. Dr. Tonismae is also certified in perinatal mental health, and she is an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health with University of Louisville School of Medicine.

All posts by Tiffany Tonismae, M.D., FACOG
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