Skip to main content
Dartmouth-Hitchcock logo
Summer Flowers In This Section


Depression can be described as an ongoing feeling of sadness, hopelessness or loss of interest in life, accompanied by other symptoms such as a change in appetite and sleeping patterns. Anxiety often accompanies depression in women.

Depression is a common illness affecting 1 in 10 people. As many as 70 percent of women have some depression symptoms during pregnancy, and 10-15 percent can be considered to have a minor or major depressive disorder. You may first become depressed during pregnancy, or existing symptoms may worsen. Help is available through counseling and/or medication, so talk to your doctor or midwife for more information.

Effect on pregnancy

  • Untreated depression can interfere with your ability to care for yourself during pregnancy.
  • Some women with depression increase their use of substances that have a negative impact on pregnancy (such as tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs).
  • Depression may affect your ability to bond with your baby.

Postpartum depression

  • Some depression after delivery is extremely common. 50-80 percent of women experience "postpartum blues." This usually begins up to five days after delivery and can last up to ten days. Symptoms include tearfulness, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, and poor concentration.
  • More severe postpartum depression generally begins up to twelve months after delivery. It often includes anxiety, worrying, and disturbed sleep. This is a very common illness and can be treated successfully.
  • Postpartum thyroid problems can cause similar symptoms to postpartum depression.

Medication use

  • Many antidepressants are safe to use during pregnancy. You can discuss your options with your doctor or midwife.
  • You can start or stay on medications if you breastfeed.
Contact Us