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Currently the PPIU is undergoing renovations and we also have COVID-19 safety measures in place. Please contact our intake coordinator Laurie Gardner at for the most up to date information.

Regardless of renovation, we still have a dedicated perinatal psychiatry inpatient unit. Regarding COVID-19 safety measures:

  • Recreational and occupational therapy are still available in person, and patients will receive a tele-psychology consultation
  • Visitation has been restricted to one adult visitor per patient for the duration of the hospitalization, so individual treatment plans will be adapted with opportunities for virtual meetings with family members. We are working with infection prevention to allow infant visitation.
  • There will be enhanced coordination and communication with outpatient teams so that admissions can be brief with goals of continuing the treatment plan in the outpatient setting

To make Referrals to the Inpatient Program, please call the UNC Psychiatry Admissions Office at (984) 974-3834.

Groundbreaking Clinic to Treat New Mothers: Audio Interview from NPR

Perinatal Mood Disorders

Depression or anxiety that occurs during pregnancy or after childbirth is called a perinatal mood disorder. Perinatal mood disorders are very serious conditions that impact both the mother and baby. Symptoms may get worse without proper treatment. A mood disorder is a medical illness that can be effectively treated if you seek help.

Help is available for women with mood disorders during pregnancy or the postpartum period. Working with doctors, nurses, midwives, counselors, and social workers, we will help create the best plan to manage symptoms and get mothers on the road to a healthier pregnancy and a happier time with their baby. Current treatments include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, estrogen therapy, psychotherapy or a combination.

Postpartum Depression
After the birth of the baby, many new mothers experience what is known as postpartum depression (PPD). Others may experience anxiety, panic attacks, worsening symptoms of pre-existing bipolar illness and/or symptoms of psychosis. These disorders can happen after any birth, not just after the first child. It is important to seek help if these symptoms last longer than a few weeks, or if symptoms are severe or worrisome.

  • Feeling sad
  • Crying a lot
  • Anxiety, worry or activation
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping, not eating, poor self-care
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Lack of energy or too much energy
  • Not interested in things you used to enjoy
  • Not interested in your baby
  • Fear of hurting yourself or your baby
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Withdrawing from people
  • Feeling overwhelmed

Postpartum Psychosis
Another form of postpartum depression is postpartum psychosis. Postpartum psychosis is a serious illness that can be severe and life threatening. Women with bipolar disorder are at high risk for having severe postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis. The psychotic symptoms include:

  • Delusions (thoughts that are not based in reality
  • Hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that aren’t there)
  • Disorganized thinking

Often mothers who develop postpartum psychosis are having a severe episode of a mood disorder, usually bipolar (manic-depression) disorder with psychotic features. It is essential for women to get evaluation and treatment immediately.

Our Perinatal Psychiatry Inpatient Unit

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Perinatal Psychiatry Inpatient Unit has been newly renovated to provide private, state of the art, specialty care for women suffering from severe perinatal psychiatric issues. The unit was newly renovated in June 2011 and is the first of its kind in the United States. It includes 5 patient beds (private and semi-private). Infants are encouraged to visit for as long as possible, but may not stay overnight. Protected sleep times for the mothers are extremely important for recovery.

Our treatment team is comprised of highly trained doctors, nurses, psychologists, midwives, social workers, and other therapists that work together to create individualized treatment plans. We provide comprehensive assessment and treatment, including medication stabilization and a vast range of individual and group therapies as appropriate. Our goal is to provide a supportive environment to assist in the recovery from perinatal psychiatric illness.

Unique Features of our Unit include:

  • Protected sleep times
  • Hospital-grade breast pumps, refrigeration and freezer storage
  • Lactation consultants
  • Specialty trained nursing and other staff
  • Group therapies including art, relaxation, behavioral, and psycho-education
    Up to twice weekly individual interpersonal psychotherapy
  • Optional family and partner psychotherapy consultation
    Nutrition consultation
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology consultation
  • Spiritual support from hospital chaplains with expertise in the perinatal period
  • Discharge planning and transition to outpatient either in the UNC Perinatal Psychiatry Outpatient program or in the patient’s community

Currently our unit is undergoing construction and we have COVID-19 protocols in place. Please ask about the following for the most up to date information:

  • Private, dedicated Perinatal Psychiatry Unit
  • Extended visiting hours to maximize positive mother-baby interaction
  • Mother-infant attachment therapy
  • Therapeutic yoga geared for pregnancy and postpartum women


For patients from out of town:

Please see the UNC Visitor Information site.

For family or friends traveling with the patient, please obtain the list of hotel accommodations in the area by contacting Patient Relations at (984) 974-5006. Note: there are no accommodations for rooming-in with the baby.

For more information about the Perinatal Psychiatry Inpatient Unit, visit AHRQ Innovations Exchange.

For general information about our Women’s Mood Disorders Program please call 984-974-5217 option 3.

To make referrals to the inpatient unit, please call the UNC Psychiatry Admissions Office at 984-974-3834.