Anxiety and Depression Signs and Help for Prenatal and Postpartum Moms

Author – Dr. Tiffany Ruffin, PSY.D.

Perinatal depression is the number one pregnancy complication. Research suggests 15-20% of women will experience depression during pregnancy or after childbirth. Perinatal depression can develop anytime during pregnancy and up to 12 months after childbirth. Up to 6% of women will develop anxiety during pregnancy and up to 10% will have anxiety after childbirth. Perinatal depression and anxiety can happen to any woman.  Symptoms of all perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can range from mild to severe, but all symptoms are treatable.

Symptoms of perinatal depression and/or anxiety do not mean a woman is a bad mother or a bad person, it just means she needs additional help and treatment. The sooner a woman gets help and treatment, the sooner the symptoms will decrease. It is important to know that treatment is available and there is no shame in asking for help.

If You...

  • Feel like you just aren’t yourself
  • Have trouble managing your emotions
  • Feel overwhelmed but are still able to care for yourself and your baby

You may be experiencing mood swings that happen to many pregnant women and new moms

These feelings typically go away after a couple of weeks.

  • Take special care of yourself. Get your partner to watch the baby, get a babysitter, or team up with another mom to share child care so that you can rest and exercise.
  • Continue to watch for the signs of depression and anxiety in the yellow and red sections below.
  • If things get worse, find someone to talk to.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider if you feel unsure.

If You...

  • Have feelings of intense anxiety that hit with no warning
  • Feel foggy and have difficulty completing tasks
  • Feel “robotic,” like you’re just going through the motions
  • Have little interest in things that you used to enjoy
  • Feel very anxious around the baby and your other children
  • Have scary, upsetting thoughts that don’t go away
  • Feel guilty and feel like you are failing at motherhood

You may be experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety

These feelings will not go away on their own.

  • Get help. Contact your health care provider or visit a clinic.
  • Call TMC’s Dr. Tiffany Ruffin at 816-404-4404. Leave her a message and she will return your call and help guide you to the best resource. 
  • Talk to your partner, family, and friends about these feelings so they can help you.

If You...

  • Feel hopeless and total despair
  • Feel out of touch with reality (you may see or hear things that other people don’t)
  • Feel that you may hurt yourself or your baby


These feelings typically go away after a couple of weeks.

  • Call 9-1-1 for immediate help
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for free and confidential emotional support – they talk about more than suicide.
  • Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and for 24-hour free and confidential mental health information, treatment and recovery services referral in English and Spanish.
  • Text HOME to 741741 for free, 24/7 crisis support in the US from the Crisis Text Line.