Maternal Depression

If you or someone you know if in immediate danger, call or text 911 right away. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of maternal depression or anxiety, contact your/their primary care provider, obstetrician/gynecologist, midwife or your child's pediatric provider. If you are in a crisis or are considering suicide, contact:

As many as one in five women suffer from symptoms of depression and anxiety before, during or after pregnancy, making this one of the most common complications of pregnancy. Depression and anxiety before, during, and after pregnancy — also known as perinatal mood and anxiety disorders — can have serious impacts on maternal health and well-being, and long-lasting impacts on children’s cognitive, behavioral, and academic development.

New findings contradict the longstanding view that symptoms begin only within a few weeks after childbirth. In fact, depression often begins during pregnancy and can develop any time in the first year after a baby is born. Recent studies also show that the range of disorders women face is wider than previously thought.

Studies indicate that maternal stress may undermine women’s ability to bond with or care for their children, and that children’s emotional and cognitive health may suffer as a result. Depression and anxiety can impact children from birth into adolescence and beyond, affecting:

  • Birth outcomes (poor nutrition, preterm birth, low birth weight, spontaneous abortion)
  • Cognitive development and behavioral challenges in infancy, toddler, and school age children
  • Academic problems in adolescence

Vermont Maternal Depression Work Group

In December 2013, the Vermont Department of Health, Division of Maternal and Child Health convened a statewide maternal depression work group. After a series of brainstorming sessions, a needs assessment survey and review of other state strategies, the work group arrived at the following recommendations:            

  • Increase capacity of Vermont’s health care providers to educate, screen, diagnose, and treat maternal depression and anxiety
  • Increase capacity of Vermont’s mental health providers to diagnose, and treat maternal depression and anxiety
  • Identify and support innovative financing options to support the screening, diagnosis, and treatment
  • Develop materials to educate and inform the general public about maternal depression and anxiety

See a summary and recommendations from Vermont’s maternal depression work group.

See a summary of current activities of Vermont’s maternal depression work group.

Resources

If you a health care, mental health, or community provider and are seeking consultation and education regarding maternal depression, we encourage you to contact the Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Consultation Service at the University of Vermont Medical Center. For more information, see the Perinatal Mood and Anxiety brochure, call (802) 847-4758 or email Sandra.Wood@UVMHealth.org.

For additional resources, please visit: