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Postpartum Depression

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Postpartum Depression

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Postpartum depression (PPD) or postnatal depression is a kind of depression that affects a new mother. Read the article below to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Aditya Gupta

Published At March 25, 2019
Reviewed AtApril 23, 2024

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression (PPD) or postnatal depression is a kind of depression that primarily affects a new mother. Around 80 percent of all new mothers experience baby blues. If the symptoms are severe and if it starts affecting the mother’s ability to take care of their baby, then it is a sign of postpartum depression. The symptoms usually start within the first week of giving birth, but some women show signs during pregnancy or up to a year after childbirth.

It is normal to have mood swings, crying spells, anxiety (feeling of uneasiness or fear), and sleep problems in the first few weeks after delivery caused by baby blues, but if a person is depressed for a longer time, then prompt treatment is needed. Early identification and treatment of such depression will help manage the symptoms and help the mother bond with the baby better. It is a psychological illness that can be effectively treated with the help of medications and counseling. It is a very common problem, and one in every nine new mothers suffers from this depression.

What Are the Symptoms of Baby Blue?

Baby blue lasts only for a couple of days to weeks after childbirth. These symptoms include.

  • Feeling sad.

  • Feeling worried.

  • Crying.

  • Anxiety.

  • Reduced concentration.

  • Sleep troubles.

  • Irritability.

  • Mood swings.

What Are the Causes of Postpartum Depression?

Physical and emotional causes seem to play a role in postpartum depression. These factors are:

Physical Factors

  • The sudden drop of hormones estrogen and progesterone after childbirth.

  • Low levels of thyroid hormone.

  • Sleep deprivation.

  • No free time.

  • Underlying medical condition.

  • Tiredness after labor and delivery.

Emotional Factors

  • Doubting their ability to be a good mother.

  • Feeling less attractive.

  • Stress due to changes in daily routine.

  • Financial Burdens.

  • No family support.

What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?

If not detected early and treated, symptoms of PPD might last for many months or longer. Some of the commonly seen symptoms are:

  • Severe mood swings.

  • Restlessness.

  • Excessive crying.

  • Eating more or less.

  • Increased or decreased sleep.

  • Problems bonding with the baby.

  • Extreme fatigue.

  • Hopelessness.

  • Intense anger.

  • The feeling of being a bad mother.

  • Difficulty concentrating.

  • Suicidal thoughts.

  • Thoughts of harming the baby.

What Are the Risk Factors of Postpartum Depression?

The risk of PPD increases with the following conditions:

  • History of depression.

  • PPD in the past pregnancies.

  • History of bipolar disorder.

  • Family history of depression or other psychological disorders.

  • Having a special needs baby.

  • Stressful events during the last year.

  • Having twins or triplets.

  • Financial problems.

  • No family support.

  • Problems in breastfeeding.

  • Unwanted or unplanned pregnancy.

  • Relationship problems.

How Is Postpartum Depression Diagnosed?

Seek medical help in the following cases:

  • If symptoms last for more than a couple of weeks.

  • If symptoms are getting worse.

  • If it is getting hard to care for the baby.

  • If it interferes with daily activity.

  • If one is having suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming the baby.

The healthcare provider will diagnose the condition after talking to the person about their feelings and thoughts and evaluating the overall mental health. They might tell the person to fill out a questionnaire, which is part of the depression screening. A blood test might be required to check the levels of thyroid and to rule out other conditions that might cause depression.

What Is Postpartum Psychosis?

Postpartum psychosis is a rare psychological disorder that develops after a few weeks after delivery. These symptoms lead to life-threatening thoughts and behavior; thus, early recognition of this condition is crucial. The signs and symptoms are:

  • Disorientation.

  • Confusion.

  • Hallucinations.

  • Agitation.

  • Paranoia.

  • Suicide attempts.

  • Attempts to harm the baby.

How One Can Help Their Wife With Postpartum Depression?

Husbands can help their wives to try following things during postpartum depression:

  • They must encourage them to take enough rest.

  • They must let them know about their feelings and listen to them without any judgment.

  • Encourage them to self-care.

  • Allow them to take frequent breaks and duties of the baby. They must also be exempted from household responsibilities even if they are at home all day.

  • Encourage them to spend time alone and indulge in their favorite hobbies.

  • They must be given physical and emotional comfort and deal with them patiently if they have a low sex drive during postpartum depression. It is normal in such cases.

  • They must be helped out by searching for a babysitter and also medical help to get proper treatment for postpartum depression.

How Is Postpartum Depression Treated?

Usually, PPD is treated with the help of psychotherapy, antidepressants, or a combination of both. The following antidepressants are used:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

  • Atypical antidepressants.

  • Tricyclic antidepressants.

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors.

  • Sometimes, hormone therapy is given if the estrogen levels are very low.

Postpartum Depression Self-Care:

  • Go for a walk with the baby.

  • Take rest.

  • Eat a balanced and healthy diet.

  • Avoid consuming alcohol.

  • Do not isolate oneself.

  • If one can feel the symptoms, one must not be ashamed and try to hide them. Get help as soon as possible.

  • Join a support group.

  • Get help to take care of the baby.

How Is Postpartum Psychosis Managed?

Postpartum psychosis is treated in the hospital with the help of drugs like antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and benzodiazepines. In severe cases, ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), which is a procedure where small electrical currents are passed through the brain to trigger brief seizures, is used. This causes changes in brain chemistry and reduces the symptoms of psychosis.

Is Postpartum Depression Seen in Fathers?

Yes, postpartum depression can be seen in fathers, too, and it is called paternal postpartum depression. They have the same symptoms as mothers. Young fathers or fathers who have a relationship and financial problems are at risk. Treatment is the same as that for mothers.


PPD is a very common condition seen after childbirth. It creates negative thoughts and feelings about oneself and other people, one’s situation, and also the future. Keep in mind that postpartum depression is a medical ailment and not an indication of one’s parenting skills. Asking for assistance is a sign of strength and a crucial step on the road to recovery. With proper care and treatment, this can be changed. If one wants to know more about postpartum depression and how it can affect their life, one can consult a psychiatrist.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Causes of Postpartum Depression?

There are varied causes of postpartum depression. The most significant among the list is the immediate decrease in many hormones. This occurs in a woman following childbirth. Other causes are:
- Depression during pregnancy.
- Previous history of depression.
- Family history of mood disorders.
- Complications during pregnancy.


How Can You Prevent Postpartum Depression?

The preventive measures that can be taken to prevent postpartum depression are as follows:
- Joining support groups that involve new mothers.
- Exercise.
- Patient education.
- Seeking support from maternal and baby related health care providers.


How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last?

The duration of postpartum depression varies from one person to another. The regulation of hormones might differ from one person to another. The symptoms of postpartum depression last from a range of periods between six months to one year. In rare cases, it exceeds more than a year. If your depressive state lasts for a longer duration, you should consult your physician immediately.


What Is the Difference Between Postpartum and Postnatal?

Postnatal depression is usually referred to as “BABY BLUES,” which is a depression that begins in childbirth but does not last more than two weeks, but postpartum depression extends to a longer period than postnatal. It might be for about six months to one year.


How Long Can a Woman Have Postpartum?

It is not that all the women have postpartum depression. Postpartum is usually referred to as the period a mother takes to recover from childbirth, which is usually said to be 48 days from the date of childbirth. If it is for a short period of time, it is not that harmful. If it exists for a prolonged duration, then you should consult your doctor.


How Do You Take Care of Postpartum?

The important tips in taking care of a mother undergoing postpartum period are as follows:
- Adequate rest.
- Good care of the wound should be ensured. This is done to prevent
- infections if it was a C-section.
- Good nutritious food.
- Get some good sunlight exposure.
- Try to sleep whenever the baby sleeps.
- If any abnormal or uncomfortable symptoms are seen, rush to the doctor.


How Do I Get Rid of Postpartum Hemorrhoids?

Consulting the health care provider is important. The most common solution would be corticosteroids like Hydrocortisone. It is necessary to soak the anal region with warm water. Consuming stool softeners and smoothies to prevent pain during defecation is also helpful. High fiber diet and increased hydration are also essential.


What Do Postpartum Hemorrhoids Feel Like?

Postpartum hemorrhoids are more common with women who underwent vaginal delivery. The symptoms seen in women are rectal itching, pain on defecation, a swelling near the anus, and severe fresh red bleeding after defecation.


How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last?

Postpartum depression usually resolves by itself with good care and treatment. It might take six months to one year. But if left untreated, it might even prolong to so many years. So, adequate medical care and patient education are important.


How Common Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum hemorrhage is very common, about 10% of new mothers face postpartum depression. Even the condition is very common still, patient education and awareness are less common, which is very important to reduce the prevalence of the condition. If you feel hard to cope up with it, you should visit your doctor.


How to Help Someone With Postpartum Depression?

Being supportive and understanding is one of the major ways that will help a postpartum mother overcome her depression. If symptoms progress and are affecting the mom, informing the health care provider for essential treatment is warranted.


When Can Postpartum Depression Start?

If symptoms of depression even continue after two weeks on a daily basis and are persistent, it confirms the diagnosis of postpartum depression. It might even start during pregnancy, but diagnosis can be confirmed only after the second week of childbirth.


How to Overcome Postpartum Depression?

Adequate medical treatment, counseling, nutritious food, good rest, and the support of family and loved ones are the different ways to overcome postpartum depression. Psychotherapy and talk therapy might help.


How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last If Untreated?

With poor or no medical treatment, postpartum depression might even prolong up to many years that might even affect the health and development of the baby due to the poor psychosocial bonding between mother and baby.


How Late Can Postpartum Depression Start?

Postpartum depression might start anywhere from the second week to the twelfth week. However, there is no accurate time about how soon it might resolve. It might be different for each mother. But once it occurs, the changes might be notable for the family members.


How to Deal With Postpartum Depression Without Medication?

Natural remedies might be used to treat postpartum depression-like as follows:
- Vitamin foods like flax seeds, chia seeds, salmon can be consumed.
- Herbal supplements.
Dr. Aditya Gupta
Dr. Aditya Gupta



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