Maternal Mental Health | NAMI

What Is Maternal Mental Health?

Maternal mental health, also known as perinatal mental health, refers to a mother’s overall emotional, social, and mental well-being, both during and after pregnancy.

Mental Health Illness During Pregnancy

  • As many as 1 in 5 women will have mood and anxiety disorders while pregnant, with the most common being depression.1 2
  • Only about 10% of pregnant women will seek treatment for these concerns.1 2

What Are Some Risks Of Not Treating A Mental Health Condition While Pregnant?1 3

Risks for the baby

  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Sleeping and feeding troubles
  • Cognitive deficits

Risks for the mother

  • Poor prenatal care
  • Depression or other mental health disorders occurring after giving birth
  • Increased risk of substance use


Could This Be Depression, Or Is It The “Baby Blues”?

Baby Blues

  • Unexplainable mood changes
  • Lasts less than 2 weeks after delivery
  • Generally happy feelings, with some low mood

Postpartum Depression3 4

  • Feeling sad, worthless, or hopeless
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in life, hard time concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite
  • Thoughts of harming self or the baby
  • Lasts for more than 2 weeks


What Are The Next Steps?

  • Talk with a healthcare provider if there is a mental health concern during or after pregnancy.
  • Treatment options can include therapy and medications, alone or in combination. It is important to compare the risks and benefits of medications to those of untreated mental illness during pregnancy.
  • Medications are often helpful, however some medications are safer than others during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Women should talk with their health care provider to determine the best treatment plan for them.
  • Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant while being treated for a mental health condition should talk with their healthcare provider to closely monitor mental health changes.

Are there available resources to learn more?


Provided by


(April 2023)

Andrea Zuloaga, PharmD, January 2020

To view the references for this resource, please visit

©2023 American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists (AAPP). AAPP makes this document available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Last Updated: January 2016.

This information is being provided as a community outreach effort of the American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists. This information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical advice. This information contains a summary of important points and is not an exhaustive review of information about the topic. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified medical professional with any questions you may have regarding medications or medical conditions. Never delay seeking professional medical advice or disregard medical professional advice as a result of any information provided herein. The American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists disclaims any and all liability alleged as a result of the information provided herein.

NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).