Maternal Mental Health Month 2024

By Ashley Barnes, M.S.

Maternal Mental Health Month 2024

May is Maternal Mental Health Month, a national observance started by Mental Health America to bring attention to the mental health challenges that many mothers face. Mental Health America emphasizes that “new and expecting mothers face not only changes to their lifestyles, but also changes to their bodies and hormones. Each woman’s experience will be different. For some, accommodating the changes of pregnancy and having a baby may come easily – they will adopt new routines and their bodies will return to pre-pregnancy shape and chemistry with little difficulty. For others, there may be physical and mental health struggles that arise.”

Maternal Mental Health

Maternal mental health disorders typically occur in what is called the perinatal period, which includes the prenatal period, or time that a woman is pregnant. Additionally, mental health disorders often occur in the postpartum period, which is the first year after the baby has been born.

Depression is the most common maternal mental health disorder, followed by anxiety disorders (Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Birth-related PTSD), bipolar disorder, and postpartum psychosis.

Maternal Mental Health Concerns

The following are some common maternal mental health concerns:

  • Postpartum Anxiety – excessive worry that occurs after having a child. Research indicates that postpartum anxiety impacts 11% and 21% of mothers (Cleveland Clinic, 2024). The following are some common experiences/symptoms of postpartum anxiety:
    • Frequent or excessive worry.
    • Feeling panicked.
    • Staying awake all night because you are afraid your baby will stop breathing in their sleep.
    • Being so afraid someone will hurt you or your child that the thought of leaving your house makes your heart race.
    • Being terrified to leave your baby alone for a few minutes with an adult you trust (or your spouse).
  • Postpartum Depression (PPD) PPD includes all the symptoms of depression but occurs only following childbirth., spanning the time right after delivery up until a year after childbirth. PPD is estimated to occur in approximately 10 to 20 percent of new mothers. Hormonal changes and stress are thought to be causes of PPD, and PPD can only be diagnosed if symptoms are experienced for more than two weeks after childbirth.
  • Postpartum Blues/”Baby Blues” mood swings that are the result of high hormonal fluctuations that occur during and immediately after childbirth. Postpartum blues are very common, occurring in up to 80 percent of new mothers. The onset of postpartum blues usually occurs three to five days after delivery, and should subside as hormone levels begin to stabilize.
  • Birth-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – this is PTSD is related to a traumatic birthing experience and includes two key elements: (1) experiencing or witnessing an event involving actual or threatened danger to the self or others, and (2) responding with intense fear, helplessness or horror. The following are symptoms:
    • Obsessive thoughts about the birth
    • Disturbing memories of the birth experience
    • Nightmares
    • Feelings of panic when near the site where the birth occurred
    • Feelings of numbness and detachment
    • Flashbacks
    • Sadness, fearfulness, anxiety or irritability
  • Postpartum Psychosis (PPP) – though very rare, some women develop quick and intense symptoms within the first two to three weeks following childbirth. Treatment most often includes hospitalization and medications prescribed by a doctor. Symptoms include delusions (false beliefs) and hallucinations (false perceptions). The following are more symptoms:
    • Mental symptoms: Extreme confusion, memory loss, incoherence.
    • Physical symptoms: Frantic energy, refusal to eat, inability to cease activity.
    • Behavioral symptoms: Preoccupation with trivial things, Paranoia, irrational statements.

Seek Support

Creating a support network can be pivotal in addressing maternal mental health concerns. Many maternal-related groups exist to support mothers through the stressors that come with having a baby. Common topics in these support groups include stress/stress management, postpartum depression, and anxiety. These groups can be found through community organizations or even through Psychology Today.

Further, support from mental health professionals can be crucial in recovering from maternal mental health disorders. We have several knowledgeable and compassionate physicians affiliated with the Mental Health Center who are experts in treating a multitude of mental health disorders and related concerns through medication management and psychotherapeutic techniques. We care about our patients and have supported many people who have left treatment with improved mental health and wellbeing.

Ketamine Therapy Center also supports individuals on their journey towards better mental health by providing ketamine therapy, an effective and fast-acting medication for treatment-resistant depression. Doctors, nurses, and therapists support patients at the Ketamine Therapy Center to deliver the best care.

Please contact our office at (310) 601-9999 or visit our Mental Health Center website to schedule an appointment today!





Cleveland Clinic (2024). Postpartum anxiety: Causes, symptoms, diagnosis & treatment. Cleveland Clinic. 

Mental Health America. (2024). Pregnancy and postpartum disorders.