by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Postpartum depression (PPD) refers to mood problems that happen up to 1 year after giving birth. Short-term mood problems are common after giving birth. PDD is when severe problems last for more than 2 weeks.
The exact cause is not known. It may be due to sudden hormonal changes during and after delivery.
The risk of this problem is higher in those with:
Problems may be:
More severe problems may be:
Contact doctor if you or a loved one is having severe problems. Treatment can help.
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The diagnosis may be made in a person who has had certain symptoms every day for at least 2 weeks.
More tests may be done to rule out other causes of depression, such as thyroid problems.
Untreated postpartum depression hurts your quality of life. It can also make it hard to bond with and parent your child. Treatment can ease symptoms and provide support until the depression has passed. Treatment may include:
It is also important to develop support system at home. This can include help that allows you to get sleep, visit friends, or do activity you enjoy like exercise. Mother support groups can also be helpful.
People at risk for PDD should talk to their doctors about counseling methods that may help.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Office on Women's Health
Canadian Psychological Association
Women's Health Matters—Women's College Hospital
ACOG Committee Opinion No. 650: physical activity and exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Obstet Gynecol. 2015;126(6):e135-e142. Reaffirmed 2017.
Do I have a form of postpartum depression? American Pregnancy Association website. Available at:
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Accessed November 17, 2020.
Postpartum depression. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/postpartum-depression. Accessed November 17, 2020.
Postpartum depression. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/postpartum-care-and-associated-disorders/postpartum-depression. Accessed November 17, 2020.
Postpartum depression. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Postpartum-Depression. Accessed November 17, 2020.
Stewart DE, Vigod S. Postpartum Depression. N Engl J Med. 2016 Dec 1;375(22):2177-2186.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 04/16/2021