What are the Signs of Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression

Also known as postnatal depression, postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of depression that can occur with having a baby. PPD is much more severe than the mild “baby blues” that many new mothers experience for a few days or a couple of weeks after giving birth to their child. Postpartum depression is a serious medical condition that can interfere with a parent’s ability to care for themself and their baby, and often requires treatment by a doctor.[1][2][3][4][5]

Depression after the birth of a child is relatively common and is thought to affect approximately one in every 10 women. However, it may be difficult to recognize. Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression may be subtle and go unnoticed, may be mistaken for other conditions, or maybe hidden out of a fear of being judged or stigmatized for not being a good, happy parent.[6][2][3][5]

Postpartum depression can also affect partners of women who have recently given birth, as well as people who have recently adopted a child. It can affect any new parent, including fathers.[1][3]

Postpartum depression may occur together with a number of other conditions, e.g. anxiety or another depressive disorder, diabetes, or thyroiditis. The relationship between depression and other conditions is complex.[7]

Good to know: Though it is not classified as postpartum depression, many women may also experience intense emotional distress, depression, and/or anxiety after a miscarriage or abortion.[8]

What are the signs of postpartum depression (PPD)?

A parent with postnatal depression will often start to experience symptoms within the first month of having a child. However, symptoms can develop at any time in the first 12 months, e.g. after four or six months.[9] Symptoms of depression may also develop during the pregnancy itself, before delivery. Signs of postpartum depression are generally present for more than two weeks.

While they may vary from person to person, as well as differ in form and severity, some of the more common signs and symptoms of postnatal depression, like other types of depression, include:[6][2][3][4][10][11]

  • Persistent low mood; this may take the form of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness, irritability, frustration, anger, a feeling of being overwhelmed, or other negative emotions
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable, including sex
  • Strong feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Tiredness and lack of energy and motivation
  • Trouble concentrating and making decisions
  • Memory problems
  • Overwhelming worry or anxiety
  • Restlessness or trouble sitting still
  • Withdrawal from loved ones
  • Disrupted sleep patterns, including difficulty falling asleep or sleeping too much
  • Changes in appetite
  • Persistent headaches, other pains, or digestive trouble without a clear physical trigger

It is important to keep in mind that some of the symptoms listed above, e.g. tiredness, disrupted sleep patterns, and low sex drive, are normal after having a baby – and not necessarily indicators of PPD. If any symptoms are troubling you, Please check with your doctor Find my Doctor for a free assessment.

A parent with postpartum depression may also experience difficulty bonding with their baby,[12] recurrent thoughts of harming their baby, as well as recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. In severe cases, there may be suicide attempts. If a person shows signs of crisis – obvious indicators that they are strongly affected by depression or at risk of suicide – it is important to call a doctor, emergency services provider, or suicide prevention line without delay.

Good to know: PPD can occur up to a year after giving birth. If symptoms of depression persist or first develop more than 12 months after childbirth, it could be an indication that another type of depression or condition is present, and a licensed medical professional should be consulted to ensure effective treatment is received.[13][14] Read about different types of depression.

Postpartum depression signs in fathers

It is possible for any new parents, including dads, whether biological or adoptive, to experience postpartum depression. It is thought that as many as one in 10 new fathers may experience the condition.[15][16]

Signs of PPD in men are largely the same as those listed above, though there may be a few differences between the sexes. For example, where women may experience sadness and seem withdrawn, their male counterparts may instead experience irritability and aggression. See this resource on signs of depression for more information.[15][16]

Many men avoid seeking medical help as they may feel they are failing to fulfil parental responsibilities. However, seeing a doctor is important to manage PPD.[15][16]

Risk factors for postpartum depression

The causes of PPD are not fully understood. Some articles in the media suggest that postpartum depression may be caused by hormonal changes after birth, but there is not sufficient evidence to support this idea. The strongest risk factors for developing postpartum depression are thought to include:[6][2][3][4]

  • A personal or family history of mental health conditions, e.g. depression or bipolar disorder
  • Lack of social support, i.e. friends and family
  • A poor relationship with one’s partner
  • Significant stress or major life events, e.g. death of a loved one or a major move, during or after the pregnancy

Other risk factors may include:

  • The pregnancy being unplanned
  • Being unemployed
  • Not breastfeeding
  • A complicated birth
  • The baby having health challenges or special needs
  • Thyroid problems during pregnancy
  • Experiencing other health challenges during or after the pregnancy
  • One’s partner being depressed
  • Substance abuse

Good to know: Parents who have twins or triplets are thought to be at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression, due to the increased challenges of caring for two or more babies at the same time.[17]

Postpartum depression diagnosis and treatment

Postpartum depression, like other types of depression, is considered a treatable condition. For detailed information on depression tests, diagnosis, and treatment options, including psychotherapy and antidepressant medication, see this resource on depressive episodes.

Postpartum psychosis

Also known as postnatal or puerperal psychosis, this is a relatively rare mental health condition that affects approximately 1 in 1000 women after childbirth. Postpartum psychosis is not the same as postpartum depression.

Postpartum psychosis can be extremely serious and is considered to be a psychiatric emergency that typically requires urgent hospital treatment. With appropriate treatment, most women make a full recovery.[2][18]

Postnatal psychosis typically develops in the first weeks after childbirth. Symptoms include:[2][18]

  • Unusually low mood (depression) or high mood (mania); moods may swing between the two
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Loss of inhibition
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations, e.g. hearing voices
  • Loss of contact with reality

If signs of postnatal psychosis are present, emergency medical care should be sought.

Risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing postpartum psychosis include:[2][18]

Signs of postpartum depression FAQs

u003cstrongu003eAre there any signs of postpartum depression during pregnancy, before birth?u003c/strongu003e

Postnatal depression often develops within the first four weeks after giving birth, but symptoms of depression can also develop during the pregnancy itself and continue after birth, or appear any time in the first 12 months after the child is born.u003csupu003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4978u0026amp;action=edit#fn4u0022u003e[4]u003c/au003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4978u0026amp;action=edit#fn10u0022u003e[10]u003c/au003eu003c/supu003e

u003cstrongu003eCan anger be a sign of postpartum depression?u003c/strongu003e

Yes, persistent anger can sometimes be a sign of postnatal depression. See the section on signs of postpartum depression above for more information, or please check with your doctor u003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/doctors/u0022u003eFind my Doctoru003c/au003e for a free symptom assessment.

u003cstrongu003eWhat are the signs of postpartum depression in males?u003c/strongu003e

As explained above, postpartum depression can also affect partners of women who have recently given birth, and a father may develop similar symptoms and u003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/my-health/signs-of-depression/u0022u003esigns of depressionu003c/au003e in the first few weeks or months after his child is born. u003cstrongu003eThe condition can affect any parents, including those who adopt.u003c/strongu003eu003csupu003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4978u0026amp;action=edit#fn1u0022u003e[1]u003c/au003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4978u0026amp;action=edit#fn3u0022u003e[3]u003c/au003eu003c/supu003e

u003cstrongu003eHow common is postpartum depression?u003c/strongu003e

PPD is relatively common, estimated to occur in as many as one in ten new mothers and fathers.u003csupu003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4978u0026amp;action=edit#fn15u0022u003e[15]u003c/au003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4978u0026amp;action=edit#fn16u0022u003e[16]u003c/au003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4978u0026amp;action=edit#fn19u0022u003e[19]u003c/au003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4978u0026amp;action=edit#fn20u0022u003e[20]u003c/au003eu003c/supu003e

u003cstrongu003eWhat are the early warning signs of postpartum depression?u003c/strongu003e

While the first signs of PPD differ from person to person, these may include:u003cbru003ePersistent low moodu003cbru003eTirednessu003cbru003eLoss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyableu003cbru003eSee the section on signs of postpartum depression above for more information, or please check with your doctor u003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/doctors/u0022u003eFind my Doctoru003c/au003e for a free symptom assessment.

u003cstrongu003ePostpartum depression vs. depression – what is the difference?u003c/strongu003e

Postpartum depression is a type of u003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/conditions/depressive-episode/u0022u003edepressionu003c/au003e that can occur in new parents, within 12 months of having a child.u003csupu003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4978u0026amp;action=edit#fn21u0022u003e[21]u003c/au003eu003c/supu003e

u003cstrongu003eWhy does postpartum depression occur?u003c/strongu003e

It is not fully understood why some parents develop postpartum depression. However, certain risk factors, including the following, may increase the risk of the condition occurring:u003csupu003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4978u0026amp;action=edit#fn6u0022u003e[6]u003c/au003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4978u0026amp;action=edit#fn2u0022u003e[2]u003c/au003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4978u0026amp;action=edit#fn3u0022u003e[3]u003c/au003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4978u0026amp;action=edit#fn4u0022u003e[4]u003c/au003eu003c/supu003eu003cbru003eHistory of depression or other mental health conditionsu003cbru003eInadequate social supportu003cbru003eHigh levels of stressu003cbru003eFor more information, see the section on risk factors for PPD above.

u003cstrongu003eCan you get postpartum depression after a miscarriage or abortion?u003c/strongu003e

Though not classified as the same condition, many women may experience distress, anxiety, and/or depression after a u003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/conditions/miscarriage/u0022u003emiscarriageu003c/au003e or abortion.u003csupu003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4978u0026amp;action=edit#fn8u0022u003e[8]u003c/au003eu003c/supu003e

u003cstrongu003eWhat if my partner, relative, or friend has signs of postpartum depression?u003c/strongu003e

It is important to broach the subject very carefully and tactfully and encourage the person to talk about how they are feeling. Listening without judgment may be helpful, and, if it seems appropriate, the person could be encouraged to speak to their GP or another medical practitioner. In addition, they could be encouraged to take small steps to help themselves, such as taking breaks and eating a balanced diet. It is important to be reassuring and patient with the person at all times.u003csupu003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4978u0026amp;action=edit#fn22u0022u003e[22]u003c/au003eu003c/supu003eu003cbru003eu003cstrongu003eIf a person shows signs of crisis – obvious indicators that they are strongly affected by depression or at risk of suicide – it is important to call a doctor, emergency services provider or suicide prevention line without delay.u003c/strongu003e

  1. Canadian Mental Health Association. “Postpartum Depression.” Accessed June 21, 2018.

  2. Patient. “Postnatal Depression.” February 23, 2015. Accessed June 20, 2018.

  3. Patient. “Postnatal Depression.” August 10, 2017. Accessed June 20, 2018.

  4. National Institute of Mental Health. “Postpartum Depression Facts.” Accessed June 20, 2018.

  5. American Family Physician. “Depression in Women: Diagnostic and Treatment Considerations.” July, 1999. Accessed June 21, 2018.

  6. Office on Women’s Health. “Postpartum depression.” May 30, 2018. Accessed June 20, 2018.

  7. UptoDate. “Patient education: Depression in adults (Beyond the Basics).” June 13, 2017. Accessed June 20, 2018.

  8. The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders. “Depression and Anxiety Following Early Pregnancy Loss: Recommendations for Primary Care Providers.” January, 2015. Accessed June 20, 2018.

  9. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. “Postpartum Depression.” Accessed October 23, 2018.

  10. Royal College of Psychiatrists. “Postnatal Depression.” July, 2015. Accessed June 20, 2018.

  11. Amboss. “Postpartum period.” December 20, 2017. Accessed June 20, 2018.

  12. Mayo Clinic. “Postpartum depression.” September 1, 2018. Accessed October 28, 2018.

  13. HuffPost. “When Postpartum Depression Doesn’t Go Away.” January 25, 2014. Accessed October 23, 2018.

  14. Medical News Today. “How long does postpartum depression last?” July 13, 2015. Accessed October 23, 2018.

  15. WebMD. “Men Also Get Postpartum Depression.” May, 2008. Accessed October 23, 2018.

  16. Journal of the American Medical Association. “Prenatal and Postpartum Depression in Fathers and Its Association With Maternal Depression: A Meta-analysis.” May 19, 2010. Accessed October 23, 2018.

  17. National Public Radio. “Pssst: Parenting Twins Can Be Depressing.” August 29, 2018. Accessed October 28, 2018.

  18. Patient. “Postpartum Psychosis.” August 10, 2017. Accessed June 23, 2018.

  19. Illinois Department of Public Health. “Facts About Postpartum Depression.” Accessed October 28, 2018.

  20. Annals of General Psychiatry. “Prevalence of postpartum depression and interventions utilized for its management.” May 9, 2018. Accessed October 28, 2018.

  21. BabyCenter. “Postpartum depression.” November, 2016. Accessed June 20, 2018.

  22. Postpartum Support International. “Tips for Postpartum Dads and Partners.” Accessed June 20, 2018.

**What are the Signs of Postpartum Depression?**


Postpartum depression (PPD) is a common mental health‍ condition that⁤ affects many new ⁢mothers after childbirth. It’s⁢ important to be⁣ aware ⁣of the signs and ‍symptoms ⁣of⁢ PPD so that you can get help if you think you may be experiencing it.⁢ This article will explore the various ⁣signs of PPD.

**Emotional Changes**

* **Sadness ⁣and tearfulness:** Persistent ‍and​ overwhelming feelings of sadness,‌ even during moments of joy.

* **Anxiety and irritability:** Heightened levels of anxiety,⁣ worry, and irritability.

* **Mood⁤ swings:** Extreme emotional fluctuations, switching‌ rapidly between euphoria and despair.

* **Guilt and shame:** Feeling guilty or ashamed about your thoughts​ and ‌feelings, even though ‍you know they’re‌ not your fault.

* **Difficulty bonding with your baby:** Feeling detached or distant⁢ from your newborn child, despite your best efforts to bond with​ them.

**Cognitive Changes**

* **Impaired concentration and memory:** Difficulty focusing, remembering things, or making decisions.

* **Negative ‌thoughts and self-criticism:**​ Persistent negative thoughts about ⁢yourself, your⁣ abilities as a mother, and your relationship with your⁣ partner.

* ⁣**Hopelessness and worthlessness:** Believing that there’s ‍no way to improve your‌ situation and that you’re a burden‍ to ⁢others.

* **Suicidal or ‌homicidal thoughts:** Rare but serious symptoms that require⁤ immediate professional help.

**Physical ⁢Changes**

* **Fatigue ⁢and insomnia:** Overwhelming exhaustion and difficulty sleeping or staying asleep.

* **Changes in appetite ⁤and weight:** Significant increases or ​decreases in appetite, leading to weight gain​ or ​loss.

* **Headaches and body aches:** Persistent headaches, muscle tension,‍ or body aches that ‍do ⁢not go away.

* **Heart palpitations:**⁣ Faster than normal heart rate,⁢ often accompanied​ by anxiety or‍ panic symptoms.

**Other Signs**

* **Avoiding social ‍situations:** Isolating yourself ⁣from friends​ and family,⁤ even when they ‌offer support.

*⁣ **Changes in sex drive:** Loss of interest in ​sex or​ difficulty having⁣ an orgasm.

*⁤ **Substance abuse:** Using alcohol, drugs, ​or other substances to ‌cope with symptoms.

* ⁣**Self-harm:** Engaging in behaviors that ⁢cause physical harm to yourself, such as cutting or bruising.

**When‌ to Seek Help**

If you experience any ⁤of these signs of PPD, it’s important to seek help from a medical professional as ⁣soon ⁣as ‌possible. Early intervention ‌is crucial for managing PPD and preventing long-term complications. Call your⁢ healthcare‌ provider, seek support from a ‍trusted friend or family member,​ or ⁣contact a mental health ⁢hotline for assistance.


Postpartum depression can be a challenging time for both ⁢mothers and their families. By being aware of the signs and symptoms, you can take steps⁣ to get the help you need​ to‍ manage your PPD and enjoy the special bond ⁢with your⁢ baby. Remember that you are ⁣not alone, and professional‌ support is⁢ available to help you recover and ⁢thrive.

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