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Perinatal Behavioral Health Service (PBHS)

Pregnancy can be a wonderful time for families, but it also comes with a rollercoaster of emotions. About 15-20 percent of pregnant women and new mothers suffer from Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (P.M.A.D.), like depression or anxiety. If your baby is experiencing a medical complication, there may be additional stress that you were not anticipating and increases your chances of experiencing a mood and anxiety order.  Women with babies in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU) have even a higher rate of P.M.A.D. 

Women & Infants Center: Behavioral Health Treatment Options

The perinatal behavioral health service team at the Women & Infants Center provides additional emotional support as you navigate your baby’s care. Part of this is providing each family with the education you need to recognize the signs of P.M.A.D and seek help. 

Many women don’t reveal or realize that they are experiencing depression and, therefore, don’t receive the care they need to get better. If left untreated, postpartum depression can last for several months and interfere with a mother’s ability to take care of herself and her child. 

That’s why, at the Women & Infants Center, we provide screening, evaluation and treatment, as needed, for all individuals, especially those going through a high-risk pregnancy, have a baby with complications, or experiencing a pregnancy loss. Our treatment services include:

  • Individual and couples therapy: Session(s) can include a brief intervention or longer-term therapy.
  • Psychiatry services: Mothers who have mental health issues or more serious psychiatric conditions have several options, including talk therapy and/or medication.
  • Community resources: Our clinical coordinators can provide referrals to community-based mental and behavioral health clinics and other support services.

Screening for Postpartum Depression 

Our perinatal behavioral health service team uses the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to screen individuals. This ten-question screening tool helps providers recognize women with signs of postpartum depression. 

Risk Factors for Postpartum Depression

Depression can affect anybody but the stress and anxiety from going through a high-risk pregnancy or having a seriously ill baby increases  the risk for pregnancy-related depression. Other factors that may also increase your risk include:

  • Prior history of depression
  • Life stress
  • Poor social support
  • Marital discord
  • Single marital status
  • Low socioeconomic status

Symptoms of Depression

Occasional feelings of sadness or fatigue are normal. But if you experience any combination of these symptoms for more than two weeks, you should seek help from a mental health professional:

  • Sad or depressed mood
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling withdrawn
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Feeling emotionally detached from the baby with little interest in providing essential care

Contact Us

To make an appointment with a Washington University perinatal behavioral health specialist at the Women & Infants Center, call 314.454.5052.