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Postpartum Depression


What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that occurs after your baby is born. Your symptoms may last up to 12 months after delivery. Your symptoms may become serious and affect your daily activities and relationships.

What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?

You may feel sad, anxious, tearful, discouraged, hopeless, or alone. You may also have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • You feel like you are not a good mother.
  • You have trouble completing daily tasks, concentrating, or remembering things.
  • You are not interested in food.
  • You lack interest in your baby.
  • You are restless, irritable, or withdrawn.
  • You feel overwhelmed with your new baby and feel that it will not get better.
  • You feel unimportant or guilty most of the time.
  • You have trouble sleeping, even after the baby is asleep.

What causes postpartum depression?

The exact cause is not known. Hormone levels that increased during pregnancy suddenly drop after your baby is born. This can cause your symptoms. A previous episode of postpartum depression or a family history of depression may increase your risk. Postpartum depression may also be trigged by a lack of support at home, stress, or medical problems.

How is postpartum depression treated?

Treatment may include medicine, talk therapy, or both.

  • Talk with a therapist about how to cope with your feelings and moods. This can be done alone or in a group.
  • Antidepressants help decrease or stop your symptoms.

What can I do to feel better?

You may feel better quickly, or if may take a few weeks to feel better. Be patient with yourself. Do the following to take care of yourself:

  • Rest when your baby sleeps. Ask your partner, friends, or family to help with cooking or cleaning. Ask them to watch your baby while you take a nap. Do only what is needed and let other things wait until later.
  • Get emotional support. Share your feelings with your partner, a friend, or another mother.
  • Exercise when you can. Even 5 or 10 minutes of exercise can help improve your mood. Walk around the block or do some stretching exercises.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Do not skip meals.
  • Take care of yourself. Shower and dress each day. Write in a journal. Celebrate small achievements, even if it is only 1 thing a day. Try to get out of the house a little each day. Meet a friend for coffee.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or if:

  • You think about hurting yourself or your baby.

Call your doctor if:

  • Your feelings of depression or sadness are strong.
  • Your symptoms last most of the day for days in a row.
  • Your symptoms last more than 1 week.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Postpartum Depression

Associated drugs

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference