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Perinatal Behavioral Health Services (PBHS)

If you feel anxious and sad during pregnancy, you should not feel ashamed. Women sometimes experience mood and anxiety disorders during and after pregnancy, such as postpartum depression. About 15-20 percent of pregnant women and new mothers suffer from Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD). Women with babies in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU) have even a higher rate of PMAD.

Women & Infants Center: Behavioral Health Treatment Options

The perinatal behavioral health service team at the Women & Infants Center brings awareness about Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. New mothers and their support persons or partners receive brochures and education about PMAD so they can recognize the signs themselves and seek help.

Many women don’t reveal or realize that they are experiencing depression or anxiety and, therefore, don’t receive the care they need to get better. If left untreated, these symptoms 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 new mothers. Our treatment services include:

  • Individual and couples therapy: Session(s) can include a brief intervention or longer-term therapy.
  • Psychiatry services: Mothers who have PMAD or other 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 screens all new mothers using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. This ten-question screening tool helps providers recognize women with signs of postpartum depression.

Risk Factors for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

PMAD can affect anybody. But certain factors may increase the risk for pregnancy-related depression. These factors include:

  • Prior history of depression
  • Life stress
  • Poor social support
  • Relationship problems
  • Single parenthood
  • Financial difficulties
  • Stress and anxiety from going through a high-risk pregnancy or having a seriously ill baby

Symptoms of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

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 or excessive worry
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling withdrawn
  • Thoughts of harming self or others
  • 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 Service specialist at the Women & Infants Center, call 314.454.5052.