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Postpartum Depression & Anxiety

Postpartum Depression & Anxiety

Postpartum Depression & Anxiety refer to the variety of symptoms that impact a mom or dad during pregnancy (perinatal) or the first couple years after the birth of a child (postpartum). Perinatal and postpartum symptoms include: depression, anxiety, obsessions and compulsions, post-traumatic stress, or psychosis. The symptoms vary widely in when they begin, how long they last, how often they occur, and how much they impact day-to-day functioning. It is a common experience impacting around 13-20% of mothers and 10% of fathers.

Postpartum Depression & Anxiety becomes clinically significant when it impacts your ability to function at home, school, work, or in your relationships.

Anxiety Counseling Vancouver WA

Causes of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety

Symptoms impacting the postpartum and perinatal period are caused by a variety of biopsychosocial factors; meaning that there are biological, psychological, and social reasons. Biological factors include genetics, brain chemistry, greater sensitivity to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and complications during pregnancy. Psychological factors include a history of mood disorders, exposure to violence and abuse, tendencies towards perfectionism, coping skills, and other life stressors. Social factors include access to supportive relationships, strength of marriage, and cultural expectations.

Symptom Self-Check

  • Do you feel sad or cry most days?
  • Have you lost interest, joy, or pleasure in your normal activities?
  • Do you feel drained, more lethargic, and without energy to do things?
  • Are you having difficulty focusing and concentrating?
  • Are you experiencing difficulties sleeping at times when you should be sleeping?
  • Are you irritable, angry, resentful, or frustrated?
  • Do you feel worthless or like a failure?
  • Are you extremely disappointed in yourself, your baby, or motherhood/fatherhood?
  • Have you lost hope for the future?
  • Have you lost your sense of identity?
  • Are you overly anxious about your baby’s health and well-being?
  • Are you compelled to do habits or rituals in order to keep your baby safe?
  • Are you significantly traumatized by your birthing experience?
  • Do you experience voices or thoughts telling you to do something that doesn’t normally match what you believe?
  • Have you had thoughts about harming yourself, ending your life, or wishing you were dead?
  • Have you had thoughts about harming your baby or wishing your baby was dead?

Treatments for Postpartum Depression & Anxiety:

Perinatal and Postpartum Depression can be treated and it’s important to work with a professional to help identify an effective treatment plan. Treatment for perinatal and postpartum depression can include:

  • Counseling
  • Medications (i.e. antidepressants, mood stabilizers)
  • Group counseling
  • Education and empowerment
  • Social support
  • Practical support (tasks, chores, household management, childcare)
  • Self-care (sleep hygiene, exercise, nutrition, relaxation)
  • Increase in pleasurable activities
  • Stress management and reduction
  • Assertive communication training
  • New parent classes
  • Acupuncture

If you are experiencing any symptoms of postpartum depression & anxiety that are impacting your well-being and functioning, please connect with Lacamas Counseling for professional therapeutic support to address and alleviate your symptoms, distress, and transition period.

Additional Resources:

Perinatal & Postpartum Mental Health Overview by PSI (Postpartum Stress Institute)

Postpartum Depression by NIMH (National Institute of Mental Illness)

Mental health diagnoses for perinatal & postpartum depression include:


Major Depressive Disorder that occurs during pregnancy or one month after delivery.


A depressed mood or lack of interest or pleasure in activities, with possible feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or excessive guilt, possible thoughts of death or suicide, as well as significant changes in weight, appetite, sleep, energy, motivation, physical activity, and/or concentration.


Symptoms of depression or anxiety resulting from a significant and stressful life change.


Multiple patterns of excessive anxiety and worry that is physically experienced (i.e. restless, irritable, disrupted sleep, difficulty concentrating) and hard to control.


A pattern of reoccurring panic attacks that are a physical body reaction (i.e. sweating, dizziness, shaking, nausea, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath) to fear or anxiety.


Experience of both manic/hypomanic and depressive episodes.


Exposure to a traumatic or life-threatening experience, with many of the following residual symptoms: reoccurring and intrusive memories, nightmares, or flashbacks; significant distress when reminded of the trauma; avoidance behaviors; negatively distorted thoughts, memories, emotions, or behaviors; detachment or dissociation; over-aroused irritability, anger, caution, or startle reflex; recklessness; and problems concentrating or sleeping.


Exposure to a traumatic or life-threatening experience with symptoms similar to PTSD that last up to one month following the traumatic event.


Patterns of reoccurring and repetitive thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions).



Experience of hallucinations or delusions. Hallucinations can be auditory (i.e. voices or sounds), visual (i.e. images, blurs, or shadows), or olfactory (i.e. smells).  Delusions are persistent beliefs about something that will not change no matter the evidence that contradicts it.