About Postpartum Depression (PPD)

Learn how Postpartum Depression can affect new parents and families

Table of Contents

What is postpartum depression?

Becoming a new parent can feel incredibly wonderful and overwhelming, and it’s completely normal to feel both. Postpartum depression (PPD) is an illness that describes a wide range of physical and emotional changes that many new parents experience during pregnancy or postpartum.

Clinical research shows that 13%-19% of all new birthing parents experience postpartum depression, which is more common than pre-eclampsia (2-8%) and gestational diabetes (9.2%).

New parents, including mothers, fathers, and parents of diverse gender identities, can experience postpartum depression. If you feel sad, more tired than usual, or very nervous after having a baby, and these feelings aren’t going away or are getting worse, talk to your health care provider. Postpartum depression can be treated.

How common is postpartum depression?

  • About 1 in 7 women may experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy and/or the first year after childbirth. Clinical research shows that 13%-19% of all new mothers experience postpartum depression.
  • About 1 in 10 new fathers may experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy and/or the first year after childbirth. Clinical research shows that 4%-25% of all new fathers experience paternal postpartum depression.

What’s the difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression?

Many new mothers and birthing people may have the baby blues after childbirth, which is a fairly normal experience and usually lasts less than two weeks. Forty to 80% of all new mothers may experience the baby blues within the first 10 days after giving birth.

While a new baby can bring immense joy, parents with the baby blues may also feel stressed, fatigued, and overwhelmed from adjusting to a new routine and responsibilities. Other symptoms of the baby blues include mood swings, crying spells, sadness, anxiety, and reduced concentration.

Having the baby blues usually doesn’t get in the way of taking care of the baby or doing daily tasks, and they come and go alongside feelings of happiness. These feelings don’t last long and usually fade on their own within the first few weeks after childbirth. However, if feelings of sadness, anxiety, and worry don’t go away within a few weeks, a parent might be experiencing postpartum depression or another mood disorder related to pregnancy and childbirth that may need treatment.

Signs and symptoms

Below are general signs and symptoms of postpartum depression:

  • Feeling restless
  • Increased crying or crying often
  • Feeling anxious or jumpy
  • Feeling irritable or angry
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Feeling fatigue or loss of energy
  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • General aches and pains, including headaches and chest pains
  • Loss of interest in family and/or activities
  • Feeling guilt or despair
  • Afraid of hurting oneself or infant
  • Hypervigilance
  • Substance use to manage symptoms

These symptoms are unique to men with postpartum depression:

  • Irritability
  • Indecision
  • Impulsivity
  • Violent behavior
  • Avoidance behavior

Risk factors

Risk factors for mothers and birthing people

These factors may increase one’s risk of depression during and after pregnancy:

  • History of a mental health disorder including:
    • Postpartum depression
    • Depression and/or anxiety during pregnancy
    • Personal history of depression and/or anxiety
    • Family history of depression and/or anxiety
  • Guilt, envy, anger, worry, or anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Postpartum blues
  • Recent or recurrent stressful events including:
    • Racism and/or discrimination
    • Poverty
    • Interpersonal violence
    • Lack of social supports
    • Childcare related stressors
  • Difficult infant temperament
  • Unplanned or mistimed pregnancy
  • Maternal disability
  • Stressful marital relationship
  • Young maternal age
  • Single
  • Obstetric stressors
  • History of childhood maltreatment, sexual, and physical abuse
  • History of substance use
  • Severe premenstrual syndrome

Risk factors for fathers and second parents

  • Postpartum depression in partner
  • Personal history of depression and/or anxiety
  • Family history of depression and/or anxiety
  • Low levels of marital satisfaction
  • Financial and/or other life stressors
  • Lack of social supports for parenting
  • Dissatisfaction with partner support
  • Poor communication with partner
  • Feeling excluded from bond between mom and baby

Support and treatment

Every parent deserves to feel happy and to enjoy their baby. Both your baby’s and your own health and wellbeing are important. Postpartum depression can impact both parents as well as infant development. Postpartum depression is treatable with therapy, support, and/or medication.

What’s the difference between postpartum depression and perinatal mood disorders?

Perinatal refers to the time period from pregnancy through the first year after giving birth. Research shows that birthing people can experience a range of mood or anxiety disorders during the perinatal period. While postpartum depression is the most commonly used to describe these mood and anxiety disorders, there are other perinatal mood disorders that can affect new and expectant parents.

Moreover, perinatal mood disorder is a fairly new term, and clinicians may also refer to it as perinatal emotional complications or perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Throughout this website, postpartum depression will be frequently used instead of perinatal mood disorders. However, it is important to understand there are other forms of perinatal mood disorders including:

  • Pregnancy (Antenatal) Depression
  • Postpartum Anxiety
  • Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Postpartum Panic Disorder
  • Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Postpartum Psychosis

Additional Information

Contact   for About Postpartum Depression (PPD)


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