What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is a mood disorder which presents in mothers close to or after the birth of a baby. This is more severe than the common “baby blues” and is characterized by mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Postpartum depression is similar to major depressive disorder in that mothers will experience a more severe and long lasting depression. In rare cases, postpartum psychosis can occur.


Between 3% and 6% of females will experience an onset of major depressive disorder during pregnancy or in the weeks or months following childbirth. 50% of cases begin during pregnancy.

Signs and Symptoms

At its worst, postpartum depression in pregnant women or following childbirth may lead to thoughts of infanticide. The common symptoms of postpartum depression include depressed mood or severe mood swings, excessive crying, difficulty in bonding with the baby, withdrawing from family and friends, decrease or increase in weight, difficulty sleeping, irritability and/or anger, feelings of inadequacy as a mother, hopelessness, worthlessness, helplessness, difficulty thinking clearly and making decisions, thoughts of harming oneself or one’s baby, recurrent thoughts of self-harm, death, or suicide.

Note: New fathers can experience postpartum depression as well. New fathers may also feel sad, tired, overwhelmed, anxious, and experience changes in their sleeping and eating patterns.


Psychotherapy and medication are two options for people suffering from postpartum depression. A doctor or psychiatrist may prescribe an antidepressant, most of which are not considered harmful to the baby. Psychotherapy can be helpful for those experiencing postpartum depression.



The DSM-5 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5

The Mayo Clinic: Mayoclinic.org

Video Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kaCdrvNGZw