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What is postpartum depression?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Postpartum depression is a serious illness that can occur in the first few months up to a year after giving birth. This is a serious condition that needs to be treated by a medical team.

The symptoms of postpartum depression may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling very sad, hopeless and empty
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability and anger
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Lack of joy in life
  • Feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Severe mood swing
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby
  • Thoughts of harming oneself or the baby
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

While it is normal for a woman to get "the blues" after delivering a child, those feelings normally go away within a couple of weeks. When feelings of sadness, irritability, mood swings, and insomnia persist longer than normal, it may be postpartum depression. Women who have experienced depression before pregnancy are known to be more prone to postpartum depression. In rare cases, women may develop what is known as "postpartum psychosis," which may cause her to harm her baby or herself.

Approximately 80 percent of new mothers experience mood swings that typically occur days after giving birth to their babies. These "baby blues" generally subside in a few weeks, as hormone levels return to normal.

However, if symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, the mother may be among an estimated 10 percent of moms that are diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD).

The symptoms of PDD are the same as those as for major depression - including thoughts of harms of harming the baby, or an unusual fixation on the baby's health.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.