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Postpartum / Perinatal Depression

Steven and Adriana understand the severity of postpartum depression. It’s a debilitating disorder that took the life of Steven’s wife, Alexis, when their daughter, Adriana, was just a few weeks old. Alexis was unable to find the help she needed to treat her postpartum depressioncondition.

In her memory, Steven started the Alexis Joy D’Achille Foundation to help other women and their families learn the warning signs and expand access to perinatal treatment through a partnership with Allegheny Health Network (AHN) and Highmark.

Steven’s work offers hope to struggling women and their families. It led Brianne to the resources she needed to overcome her postpartum depression. And gave her a second chance to experience the joys of motherhood. Now, she feels better than ever.

How to get immediate help

Perinatal depression is an urgent issue. The term perinatal refers to the time period during and after pregnancy (postpartum).  And the longer you wait to get help, the harder it can be to feel better. If you, or anyone you know, is experiencing symptoms of perinatal / postpartum depression, please call your obstetrician, primary care doctor, or AHN Women’s Behavioral Health at 412-578-4030.

If you fear you are in immediate danger, call 911 or 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2443).

You can also call Resolve Crisis Services at 1-888-7-YOU-CAN (1-888-796-8226). Resolve is a 24-hour, 365-day crisis service. It's free to all residents of Allegheny County, regardless of your ability to pay.

Perinatal & postpartum depression services at Allegheny Health Network: why choose us?

At AHN, we offer comprehensive, ongoing women’s behavioral health services throughout your pregnancy and for a year postpartum. Women who choose AHN for behavioral health services benefit from:

  • A unique mother-baby intensive outpatient program: AHN is one of the few hospitals in the country to offer intensive mother-baby outpatient treatment for postpartum depression. It’s the first such program in the area, taking place at West Penn Hospital. You can bring your baby with you to sessions, so you can continue to bond while you receive care.
  • Trusted expertise: At AHN, our women’s behavioral health specialists have received training in pediatrics, as well as adolescent and adult psychiatry. This means we can work with you as both a patient and as a parent.
  • Comprehensive psychological therapy: Our staff offers hour-long, weekly therapy sessions for depression. We also treat other common postpartum disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and panic.
  • Pregnancy & childbirth classes: Families can attend classes on a range of topics, including infant massage, breastfeeding, and infant care. Being educated helps alleviate anxiety and provides support. Check out our pregnancy & childbirth classes.
  • Regular mood disorder screenings: We will routinely screen you for depression throughout your pregnancy and after you give birth. Our obstetrics team works closely with our women’s behavioral health staff for comprehensive, coordinated care. In addition to simply screening for depression, we’re also vigilant about screening for other common pregnancy and postpartum illnesses, like bipolar disorder.
  • Rapid treatment: When you’re depressed or suffering from another mood disorder, you don’t want to wait for help. If you screen positive for a mood disorder, you’ll be contacted by our staff within 48 hours and receive an intake appointment with a clinician within two weeks.

What are the symptoms of perinatal and postpartum depression?

It can be hard to separate symptoms of perinatal depression from the normal tiredness and irritability that can come with pregnancy or postpartum. However, it’s important not to discount your feelings and get help so you can fully enjoy your pregnancy and new baby. Perinatal and postpartum depression symptoms can occur during pregnancy as well as postpartum commonly include:

  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Feeling sad or empty the majority of the time
  • Feeling anxious (perinatal anxiety) or overly worried
  • Feeling irritable or on edge
  • Struggling to feel connected with your baby
  • Isolating yourself from family or friends
  • A change in appetite
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much

Intensive perinatal / postpartum outpatient therapy at AHN

AHN is one of the few facilities in the country that offers intensive, outpatient mother-baby therapy the first one in the region. Here, you can get the help you need without leaving your baby — they can come with you. These sessions meet for three hours per day, three times a week at West Penn Hospital.

This intensive postpartum therapy can lead to quicker recovery, and help you bond with your baby. While meeting with our specialists, you will learn ways to foster the healthy development of your baby as well as activities that promote early literacy. Our staff also offers classes on infant care and lactation support, helping you feel strong and empowered.

During intensive outpatient treatment, our women’s behavioral health professionals lead sessions that include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT emphasizes the link between thoughts and feelings. It involves identifying patterns of negative thinking and developing more helpful patterns.
  • Interpersonal therapy (IPT): This type of therapy focuses on the link between your mood and interpersonal relationships. IPT therapists help you understand how your mood can impact your relationships. Our staff will help you learn new ways to effectively communicate and solve problems.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy: This type of therapy helps you learn new emotional regulation techniques to manage painful emotions and decrease conflict in relationships.
  • Group therapy: Here, you’ll be able to share your experiences and brainstorm solutions with other moms. A women’s behavioral health specialist leads the sessions.
  • Medication management: You’ll have ongoing, regular access to a perinatal psychiatrist who can prescribe and manage medications.

How to get immediate help

Perinatal / postpartum depression is an urgent issue, and the longer you wait to get help, the harder it can be to feel better. If you, or anyone know, is experiencing symptoms of perinatal depression, please call your obstetrician, primary care doctor, or Allegheny Health Network Women’s Behavioral Health at 412-578-4030.

If you fear you are in immediate danger, call 911 or 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2443).

Our specialists See More

AHN Doctor Katie Hinzman
Katie A Hinzman, DO
Pittsburgh, PA
AHN Doctor Tara Gunther
Tara J Gunther, PsyD
Pittsburgh, PA
AHN Doctor Elizabeth Fourcade
Elizabeth Fourcade, MD
Pittsburgh, PA

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