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Postpartum depression: baby blues or something more?

After pregnancy, most people just can’t wait to get back to normal. Unfortunately, many new parents struggle with depression in the days, weeks or months after baby is born — this is known as postpartum depression.

What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression is a deep feeling of sadness or despair in new moms or birthing parents, and is far more intense than the basic mood swings or crying that many notice in the days or weeks after giving birth. In rare instances, postpartum depression may devolve in a more serious condition known as postpartum psychosis.

What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?

Although the symptoms can vary from person-to-person, these are some common ones to look out for:

  • Decreased hunger
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Insurmountable tiredness/fatigue
  • Severe mood swings
  • Trouble socializing with family, friends, or baby
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or baby

What causes postpartum depression?

Researchers are unable to pinpoint exactly what can cause postpartum depression, though there are many possibilities. But though there is no identified direct cause, healthcare providers have discovered some risk factors involved with the onset of postpartum depression. That said, it’s common for people with none of these experiences to suffer from PPD.

  • History of depression, bipolar disorder, other mental illness
  • Personal or family history of postpartum depression
  • Women who struggled with a crisis during pregnancy
  • Those who are, or feel unsupported during and after pregnancy
  • Women with financial or personal problems

Tips for postpartum depression

If you believe you have or are at risk for postpartum depression, it’s best to call your healthcare provider right away. Postpartum depression is slightly different in nature than regular depression, so it’s important to have somebody knowledgeable guide you through it. Talk to your partner, friends, or other family about your depression if you need to, as bouncing your feelings off people is a great way to begin the recovery process.

It’s also important to know that postpartum depression doesn’t have to occur in the first few days, weeks, or even months after delivery. In fact, postpartum depression can occur any time in the first year or so after having your little one. It’s also possible for a non-birthing parent to develop postpartum depression.

The bottom line

Postpartum depression is a very serious condition that could have wide-ranging effects on the whole family, so you should call your healthcare provider if you begin to suspect that you may be developing postpartum depression. Early intervention and treatment is the best way to get in front of postpartum depression, and help manage its effects.


  • “Postpartum Depression Facts.” NIMH. NIH Publication No. 13-8000, National Institutes of Mental Health, NIH, HHS, Jun 2016. Web.
  • Dorothy K Sit, Katherine L Wisner. “The Identification of Postpartum Depression.” Clin Obstet Gynecol. 52(3):456-468. Web. Sep 2009.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Postpartum depression.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. August 11, 2015. Web.

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