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Postpartum Depression

It is normal to experience the “baby blues” during the first days and weeks after giving birth. You may have feelings of disappointment, irritability or anxiety that usually go away without treatment.

However, these feelings could also be a sign of postpartum depression, which is much more serious and longer-lasting than the baby blues.

Causes and Symptoms

Postpartum depression is the most common complication of childbirth. Although the exact cause of postpartum depression remains unclear, it is likely that a number or factors are involved. Changing family roles, hormonal changes, stress, marital strife and a family history of mental illness can all contribute to postpartum depression. Common symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Hopelessness
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Confusion
  • A fear of harming your baby or yourself
  • Mood swings characterized by exaggerated highs and lows
  • Diminished sex drive
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Uncontrolled crying with no known cause
  • Extreme worry for your baby
  • Lack of interest in your baby
  • Appetite changes
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Resentment
  • Memory loss
  • Feelings of isolation

If you believe you are suffering from postpartum depression, it is very important that you get proper treatment as soon as possible not only to ensure that your baby is safe and properly cared for but to help you feel like yourself again and enjoy parenthood.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If your physician suspects that you are suffering from postpartum depression, he or she will conduct a complete physical exam and review your medical history. Your physician may order a thyroid screening to detect any hormonal or metabolic abnormalities. You may also be referred for psychiatric evaluation by a UPMC Pinnacle specialist.

Your physician will determine the best course of treatment for you based on your age, health, medical history, severity and duration of symptoms, tolerance for medications, breastfeeding status, and your personal preferences. Treatments may include:

  • Medication such as hormonal treatments and/or antidepressants
  • Zulresso
  • Psychological treatment, which may include other family members
  • Peer support in the form of support groups or educational classes
  • Stress management and relaxation training
  • Exercise
  • Assertiveness training, which helps women learn to set limits to prevent becoming overwhelmed

Postpartum Support Groups

New Parent Network and Working Parent Network are support groups facilitated by an experienced health care provider from UPMC Women and Children's Services. The groups provide an opportunity to connect with other new parents, discuss the physical and emotional adjustments parenthood brings and discover support and resources. New Parents meets virtually Mondays from 1 to 2 p.m. and Thursdays 1-2:30 at the Camp Hill Giant, 3301 Trindle Road Camp Hill. Working Parents meets virtually on the second Saturday of each month at 10:30am. For more information, to receive virtual links, and updates please email parentchildeducation@upmc.edu or call our coordinator of parent child education at 717-231-8916.

The HOPE Group is a Postpartum Adjustment Support Group for expecting and new moms. Many new moms feel overwhelmed for weeks and/or months following the birth of their baby. They experience feelings such as exhaustion, insomnia, social withdrawal, feeling out of control, poor concentration, frequent crying, and forgetfulness. Having a safe atmosphere of recognition and support allows one to deal with feelings of inadequacy in caring for your child, guilt, and sadness.

Join us Monday evenings, where the group will be facilitated by a caring nurse with peer support, who are experienced in women's health. Sessions are held in-person at Carlisle Women's Center and also available virtually on the second and fourth Monday evening of every month at 6 p.m. Please contact 717-960-3409 or email parentchildeducation@upmc.edu for information on how to join.

Getting Help

If you're experiencing the signs of postpartum depression, contact PinnacleHealth Psychological Associates at 717-231-8360, UPMC Pinnacle Women's Behavioral Health Specialists at 717-988-9430, or crisis intervention in your county:

  • Western Cumberland and Perry counties: 717-243-6005
  • Eastern Cumberland and Perry counties: 717-763-2222
  • Dauphin County: 717-232-7511
  • York County: 717-851-5352

You can also contact Postpartum Support International (PSI) coordinators. PSI provides support, encouragement and information about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum depression. Visit or call 1-800-944-4773 for local help.

IF YOU BELIEVE YOU MAY HARM YOURSELF OR YOUR BABY, CALL YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER, 911 OR GO TO THE NEAREST EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT.

Our Providers

Find Pregnancy and Childbirth providers in Central Pa.

Our Locations

PinnacleHealth Psychological Associates
1000 Bent Creek Blvd
Suite 10
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050

Phone: 717-988-9460
Fax: 717-221-5422

PinnacleHealth Psychological Associates
Located at Brady Building
205 South Front Street
5th floor
Harrisburg, PA 17104

Phone: 717-231-8360
Fax: 717-231-8358

UPMC Pinnacle Women's Behavioral Health Specialists
150 Corporate Center Drive
Suite 202
Camp Hill, PA 17011

Phone: 717-988-9430

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