February 2023

What’s Postpartum Depression?

Close to three-quarters of new mothers experience the “baby blues”—a short-lived emotional response that makes them feel irritable, restless, and anxious.

Postpartum depression differs from the baby blues in that the symptoms are more severe and last longer. This type of depression affects around 13% of moms.

Although many women who experience postpartum depression begin to feel its effects right after giving birth, symptoms can occur as much as six or more months later.

Signs and symptoms

If you have several of the symptoms listed below for more than 2 weeks, contact your healthcare provider and ask to be screened for postpartum depression.

Symptoms vary from person to person, but may include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, and helpless

  • Experiencing a change in eating and sleeping patterns

  • Crying for no apparent reason

  • Having little interest in your child

  • Having thoughts of doing harm to your child or yourself

Risk factors

Women with the following risk factors are more likely to develop postpartum depression:

  • Previous depression

  • Family history of depression

  • Lack of support from family and friends

  • Financial or relationship problems

Self-care steps to take

Fortunately, postpartum depression is treatable. A mental health professional can help by providing a combination of medication and talk therapies.

Speaking with other mothers and learning from what they have experienced can also help you feel better. Other steps you can take include:

  • Asking family and friends to care for your child for short periods of time and help with chores and errands, giving you time to rest or exercise

  • Not expecting to be a perfect parent or to pick your life up where it left off before you became a mom

  • Joining a support group for mothers with postpartum depression

  • Accepting that being a parent is difficult, and that it’s OK to ask for help




Online Medical Reviewer: Joseph Gonella, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.