Being a new mom can be stressful and difficult. It takes time to adjust to being a mom. Many new moms may have the baby blues after childbirth. Baby blues may include mood swings and crying spells and fade quickly. But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression.
Depression is more than just feeling "blue" or "down in the dumps" for a few days. It's a serious illness that involves the brain. With depression, sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings don't go away and interfere with day-to-day life and routines. These feelings can be mild to severe. Sometimes postpartum depression is simply a complication of giving birth.
PPD is a condition that can affect new parents during the first year after childbirth. Parents with postpartum depression experience a range of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes including sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that interfere with day-to-day life and routines.
If you feel sad, more tired than you think you should be, or if you feel very nervous or distraught, and if these feelings are not going away or if these feelings are getting worse talk to your health care provider. Postpartum depression is treatable. Prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms — and enjoy your baby.
More about PPD:
The difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression
Forty to 80% of all new mothers may experience the baby blues within the first 10 days following birth. While a new baby can bring immense joy to a family, families also experience stress, fatigue, and difficulty adjusting to a new routine and responsibilities. Many new mothers may have the baby blues after childbirth, which is a fairly normal occurrence that typically lasts less than two weeks.
Symptoms of Baby Blues include:
- Mood swings and crying spells
- Sadness and anxiety
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Reduced concentration
These symptoms do not interfere with functioning or infant care and are intermixed with feelings of happiness. These feelings are temporary and usually fade on their own within the first few weeks after birth.
If feelings of sadness, anxiety, and worry do not resolve within a few weeks, a mother may be experiencing postpartum depression or another perinatal mood disorder that may require treatment.
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 indicates that 13% -19% of all new mothers experience this significant, clinical condition.
About 1 in 10 new fathers may experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy and/or the first year after childbirth.
Clinical research indicates 4%-25% of all new father’s experience paternal PPD.
Signs and symptoms of Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Below are general signs and symptoms of PPD
- Feeling restless
- Increased crying/crying often
- Lack of energy
- Feeling anxious or jumpy
- Feeling irritable or angry
- Sleeping too much/not enough
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Eating too much/not enough
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Headaches/chest pains
- General aches and pains
- Loss of interest in family and/or activity
- Feeling guilt and despair
- Afraid of hurting oneself/infant
- Use of substances to manage symptoms
Additional symptoms unique to men with PPD:
- Violent behavior
- Avoidance behavior
Risk factors for mothers
Some women are more at risk for depression during and after pregnancy. These factors may increase one’s risk of depression during and after pregnancy:
- History of a mental health disorder including:
- Postpartum depression
- Depression during pregnancy
- Anxiety during pregnancy
- Previous depression or anxiety
- A family history of depression
- Guilt, envy, anger, worry, anxiety
- Low self-esteem
- Postpartum blues
- Recent/recurrent stressful events including:
- Interpersonal violence
- Lack of social supports
- Childcare related stressors
- Difficult infant temperament
- Unplanned or mistimed pregnancy
- Maternal disability
- Stressful marital relationship
- Young maternal age
- Obstetric stressors
- History of childhood maltreatment, sexual, and physical abuse
- History of substance use
- Severe premenstrual syndrome
Risk factors for fathers
- Postpartum depression in partner
- Personal and/or family history of depression and/or anxiety
- Low levels of marital satisfaction
- Financial/life stressors
- Lack of outside social supports for parenting
- Dissatisfaction with partner support
- Poor communication between the parents
- Feeling excluded from bond between mom and baby
If you feel sad, more tired than you think you should be, or if you feel very nervous or distraught, and if these feelings are not going away or if these feelings are getting worse, talk to your health care provider.
Why seek help?
Every parent deserves to feel happy and to enjoy their baby. Your health and wellbeing are important, and your baby’s 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.
Perinatal mood disorders
Perinatal refers to the period starting in pregnancy through 1 year after giving birth.
Research indicates that women can experience a range of mood or anxiety disorders during pregnancy and through the first year after giving birth. While postpartum depression is the most commonly used term, other perinatal mood disorders can affect new and expectant parents. Perinatal mood disorder is a fairly new term and is also referred to by clinicians as perinatal emotional complications and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Throughout the 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, which include:
- Pregnancy (Antenatal) Depression
- Postpartum Anxiety
- Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Postpartum Panic Disorder
- Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Postpartum Psychosis