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Behavioral Health Conditions We Treat

Women can have the same mental health conditions that men do. But women's chemistry, hormones, and life circumstances often make them more at risk for certain behavioral health conditions.

For example, anxiety and depression can find you in any stage of life. But they are particularly common around pregnancy and postpartum, due to changing hormone levels.

With UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital treats many mental health conditions in women.

If you're struggling with any type of mental health condition, don't hesitate to call our team of experts for help at 412-641-1238.

Mood Disorders and Depression in Women

A mood disorder, such as depression, is more than a fleeting feeling of being down. Rather, it can feel like a constant weight of sadness, fatigue, and hopelessness.

We screen all pregnant and postpartum women for mood disorders, including:

  • Depression. One in five women will have a period of clinical depression in her lifetime.
  • Postpartum depression. About one in seven women have an intense feeling of depression after giving birth, brought on by hormone changes.
  • Bipolar disorder. This disorder causes weeks of extreme mood swings — from euphoria to deep sadness. It occurs in both men and women at about the same rate but can affect them differently. Hormones may play a role in how bipolar disorder affects women.

Anxiety Disorders in Women

We all have anxiety from time to time. But an anxiety disorder means it doesn't go away and interferes with your day-to-day life. Your situation or environment may or may not trigger feelings of anxiety.

Pregnancy and postpartum can increase anxiety disorder symptoms in some women.

Along with emotional symptoms, an anxiety attack can also cause:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Dizziness.
  • An increased heart rate.
  • Chest or stomach pain.

Types of anxiety disorders

  • Generalized anxiety disorder. Consistent and intrusive worries or feelings of anxiety, often with restlessness, fatigue, or irritability. It can also cause physical symptoms such as a stomachache or a fast heartbeat.
  • Panic disorder. Intense and repeated panic attacks.
  • Phobias. Frequent and intense fears of an object or situation, such as driving or social scenes.

Postpartum Intrusive Thoughts and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Postpartum Intrusive Thoughts

It's common for new moms to have intrusive, sometimes disturbing, thoughts. Postpartum intrusive thoughts commonly involve infant harm, most often caused by hormone changes.

They can include the new mother thinking that:

  • Something bad and senseless will happen to the baby.
  • She will do something to harm the baby.

Though scary, these thoughts do not increase the chances you will harm your baby.

But it's vital to let your doctor or ob-gyn know if you have intrusive thoughts, as they can hinder mother-child bonding.


Postpartum intrusive thoughts can be a symptom of OCD.

Symptoms of OCD are repeated:

  • Unwanted thoughts.
  • Actions and behaviors.

OCD symptoms often are more severe or occur for the first time during pregnancy.

Psychotic Disorders in Women

These types of conditions cause people to become confused about reality. A person with psychosis may hallucinate or have fantastical beliefs or delusions.

Women with bipolar disorder are at an increased risk for psychotic episodes during and after pregnancy.

If you're having psychotic thoughts, have a psychiatrist assess you right away for both you and your baby's health.

Trauma Disorders

A traumatic event can affect you deeply. It can cause anxiety and fear, which can interfere with normal life. At UPMC, we use a careful approach to trauma in our care settings.

Some causes of trauma include:

  • Perinatal loss and grief, either during pregnancy, at birth, or shortly after.
  • Traumatic labor and delivery.
  • Troubling early life events that can affect the way you cope during and after pregnancy.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur later and cause flashbacks, nightmares, and always feeling on edge.

Substance Use Disorders in Women

Substance use and misuse mean using legal or illegal drugs repeatedly in a manner not prescribed.

This can cause you to form an addiction to:

  • Drugs, either prescription or illegal drugs.
  • Alcohol to the point that it interferes with daily life and ability to function. Drinking during pregnancy can harm the growing baby.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can happen at any age, though they are more common among young women.

A person with an eating disorder forms an unhealthy relationship with food, resulting in harmful and potentially life-threatening behaviors.

The most common eating disorders include:

  • Anorexia. Severely restricting food to the point of starvation, often paired with obsessive exercise.
  • Bulimia. Binge-eating large amounts of food and then purging, such as by throwing up or taking laxatives.

Contact Magee-Womens Behavioral Health Services

If you're experiencing any type of mental health condition, don't hesitate to call our team of experts for help at 412-641-1238.

Our address

Magee-Womens Behavioral Health Services
UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital
300 Halket St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213