Understanding Postpartum Depression (PPD)

Up to 80% of postpartum women experience what is called “the baby blues” and up to 20% of women will experience postpartum depression or perinatal mood disorder. Feeling blue usually goes away after a few weeks, while postpartum depression leads to an inability to function normally and, if not treated, can last for weeks, months, or even years.

The symptoms of postpartum depression may include:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Problems with appetite
  • Problems with sleep
  • Reduced interest in pleasurable activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability or irrational anger
  • Feeling of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy
  • Difficulty in clear thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Severe anxiety or panic attacks
  • Thoughts of death and/or harming yourself or the baby

Any of the symptoms listed above could also be related to other medical concerns so always talk with your health care provider if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.

Some things that can help:

  • Additional support for daily activities from a caring, nonjudgmental friend or family member
  • A postpartum doula, home visitor, or volunteer from a supportive organization to offer information, consistent check-ins, and resources
  • Therapy with a trained counselor who specializes in PPD, including group therapy
  • Medication prescribed by your health practitioner
  • Exercise, yoga, meditation, naps, and good nutrition
  • Alternative health practitioners

With support and education, postpartum depression is a very treatable illness. If you suspect you are experiencing postpartum depression, see your medical provider as soon as possible.