Postpartum Depression Can be Debilitating for 1 in 7 New Mothers

February 24, 2014

Postpartum Depression Can be Debilitating for 1 in 7 New Mothers

St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital Offers Perinatal Depression Support Services Program for prevention, awareness and support for women experiencing perinatal depression.


TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 24, 2014) – After waiting more than a decade to conceive a child, Lori’s excitement about becoming a mother turned to panic during the third trimester. Her fears went beyond the typical worries of a new mother and following the birth of her son, Lori’s thoughts raced, she felt anxious and her weight plummeted.  She couldn’t eat, sleep or leave the house. Lori has a history of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, but this emotional rollercoaster became extreme and she knew something was very wrong.

     Many women experience a case of the postpartum “baby blues” after giving birth, which often peaks 3-5 days after delivery and typically last no more than two weeks. The main difference between “baby blues” and postpartum depression is that the predominant mood with “baby blues” is happiness as opposed to sadness with perinatal depression. Postpartum depression affects 1 in 7 mothers.

     According to the American Pregnancy Association a sudden change in hormones, lack of sleep, and/or stress may cause postpartum depression. It often peaks about 3-6 months after giving birth. Symptoms include:

  • Tearfulness
  • Isolation
  • Anxiety
  • Low energy
  • Lack or interest or over-concern with the baby
  • Poor concentration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Thoughts of harming self or baby


     St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital Perinatal Depression Support Services Program social workers provide support to pregnant women and those who have delivered. The program works closely with OB/GYN offices that encourage pregnant women to complete the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. This is a ten question screening tool that helps predict and identify women that have symptoms associated with a greater risk of suffering depression/anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum depression.  Pregnant women who experience untreated depression or anxiety have a 50-80% chance of experiencing Postpartum Depression. Plus, if a woman is on medication to treat depression prior to pregnancy and stops taking the medication during pregnancy, she has a 50-75% chance of relapse after pregnancy.

     Based on her history, it wasn’t surprising Lori scored high on the Edinburgh screening, which triggered a response from the Perinatal Depression Support Services Program at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital. It’s standard for a representative to reach out to any woman who ranks high on the screening. 

     Kristina Davis, the primary social worker who facilitates the Perinatal Depression Program, checked in with Lori regularly and quickly established a good rapport. She answered questions, linked Lori with resources for therapists and was someone to talk to for support throughout the rest of her pregnancy and postpartum. This bond became a life-saver when Lori’s postpartum depression escalated several weeks after giving birth.

     Lori said, ““It felt like a hand reaching out to me when I was in dark place. It was really scary, but knowing I had her really made me feel like I was going to get the help I needed. She made me feel like I was going to get through this.”

     The Perinatal Depression Support Services Program offers a helpline ((813) 872-3925) and refers women to therapists and psychiatrists who can get them the continued help they need.

     St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital offers free support groups for women in the community who are pregnant or have delivered within the last year:

  • Perinatal Depression Support Group- focuses on women who are experiencing postpartum depression or other perinatal mood disorders associated with pregnancy and/or birth.
  • Coping with Motherhood Support Group- provides support to mothers who are adjusting to motherhood, challenged by everyday life stressors, experiencing emotional changes and/or having difficulty breastfeeding. With good support, postpartum depression often dissipates within several months to a year depending on the woman.


    It’s been four months since the birth of Lori’s son and she’s doing a lot better. She’s seeing a psychiatrist, taking medication, attends a mother’s support group at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital and stays in contact with Kristina. Lori says it’s important not to stay isolated and keep postpartum depression a secret. She hopes her story will encourage other mother’s experiencing postpartum depression to reach out and take advantage of available resources.

     To speak with Lori or someone in the Perinatal Depression Support Services Program please call (813) 554-8216.