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.
Repetitive fears about your child’s health and welfare
Poor focus, memory loss, and problems making decisions
Sleeping too much or too little
Lack of energy or motivation
More severe problems may be:
Lack of interest in your infant
Fear of hurting or killing yourself or your child
Thoughts of death or suicide
Sensing or believing things that are not real
Loss of contact with reality
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:
Medicine—to ease depression or anxiety and help progress in therapy
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.
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: http://americanpregnancy.org/first-year-of-life/forms-of-postpartum-depression. 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
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