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Mental health is a crucial aspect of overall health, not just for mothers but for their families as well. The Florida Maternal Mental Health Collaborative provides an array of tools and resources to promote mental health and wellbeing in new mothers. Our resources include support lines, educational materials, access to and support for mental health professionals. These resources are designed to provide mothers and providers with the help and support they need to navigate the challenges of motherhood and stay mentally healthy.

What is Behavioral Health?

Although you have likely heard of mental health before, you may not have heard of the term behavioral health. Behavioral health is an umbrella term that includes both mental health and substance use.

While mental health has to do with your overall psychological wellbeing, behavioral health is a term used to describe the combination of your mental health, wellbeing, and any substance use behaviors or concerns that you might have.

This website can help you find treatments and services for both your mental health and substance use concerns.

What is Perinatal Depression?

Common symptoms to look out for are:

  • Feeling depressed, down or irritable

  • Not able to enjoy things that are usually enjoyable

  • Major changes in appetite, or significant weight gain or loss

  • Sleeping too much or not enough

  • Major changes in energy level

  • Unable to concentrate or make decisions

  • Feeling worthless or excessively guilty

  • Abnormal thoughts of death or of killing yourself

Approximately 80-85% of women have postpartum “blues” which is defined as feeling overwhelmed, irritable, impatient, as well as having moments of emotional hypersensitivity, sadness and crying. These experiences are normal and thought to be due to the hormonal changed that accompany delivery. However, if these symptoms last for more than two weeks, it is advisable to seek help because they might be signs of Perinatal Depression. Perinatal Depression is a more serious condition. It is defined as clinical depression around the time of pregnancy. It affects up to 1 in 5 women, making it one of the most common complications of pregnancy.

You may also notice that you are:

  • Feeling very anxious, especially about the pregnancy or the safety and health of your baby

  • Having confusing thoughts about something harming the baby or doing something to harm the baby

  • Having anger or rage that is not normal for you

  • Not allowing anyone else to care for your baby

  • Having difficulty with breastfeeding

  • Feeling as though you are not bonding with your baby

In some severe cases, women may experience Postpartum Psychosis where they also experience delusions, hallucinations, and other psychotic symptoms. This is very rare, affecting only 1-2 women per 1000 women giving birth, but it is very serious and requires immediate medical attention.

Effects of Perinatal Depression

Perinatal Depression is a medical condition. Leaving medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes untreated causes health complications. The same is true for Perinatal Depression.

Women who experience depression during pregnancy may be less likely to be mindful of good prenatal care and nutrition and are more likely to have a premature delivery, restricted fetal growth and infants with low birth weight, and problems with breastfeeding and bonding with their infant. There is also a heightened risk of pre-eclampsia during pregnancy.

Studies have shown that babies born to depressed mothers cry excessively and are more inconsolable, have poorer growth and increased risk of infection, and have more difficult temperaments as children with more distress, sadness, fear, shyness, and frustration. Additionally, there are potential long term effects for children of mothers with untreated depression such as issues with cognitive development, problems in school, behavioral problems, and depression.


Perinatal Depression can also wreak havoc in the family dynamics. It may impair communication between partners and even may contribute to depression in the mother’s partner as well.


Perinatal Depression may lead to self-harm, suicide, or harming the baby if left untreated. It is important to catch perinatal depression early and receive treatment in order to minimize any of the complications.


There is an abundance of resources and additional information on Perinatal Depression available on the web. Here are a few educational resources that we found to be particularly interesting and helpful.

This is a FAQ sheet from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. It has information about what postpartum depression is, causes, and treatment options. It also provides links to other websites with information on postpartum depression. Click here to visit the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website to access this document: American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 

This website is a perinatal focused portion of a larger toolkit for depression education that includes information on treatment options and risk factors for Perinatal Depression, as well as information on other similar and related depressive disorders. Click here to visit the Depression Toolkit website to access this document: Depression Toolkit 

Although this website is for an organization in San Diego, California and all of the resources (events, support groups, etc.) listed are local to San Diego. However, this site does have downloadable brochures in Spanish as well as a great section explaining how fathers are affected by Perinatal Depression. Click here to visit the Postpartum Health Alliance website to access this document: Postpartum Health Alliance 

Dr. Christina Hibbert is a clinical psychologist, author, and speaker who specializes in women’s mental health. On her website, there is a section committed to postpartum depression with over twenty links for further education about postpartum depression for mothers, for fathers, treatment options, and other support options. Click here to visit Dr. Christina Hibbert’s website to access this document: Dr. Christina Hibbert 

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