Peripartum & Postpartum Depression

How common is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is very common, but can be hard to recognize. About 1 out of 9 mothers struggles with postpartum depression. However, postpartum is sometimes a taboo subject in families and is not discussed. You may want to talk to your mother or grandmother about their experiences in pregnancy to see if you might be at risk for developing postpartum depression.

What is Major Depressive Disorder with Peripartum Onset?

Postpartum Depression is an onset of depressed mood that occurs prior to delivery or postpartum.

What are the warning signs, symptoms, and diagnosis for Postpartum Depression?

There is a difference between a short spanned period of “baby blues” occurring right after the birth of the child, and postpartum depression. Postpartum depression lasts longer than baby blues symptoms do.

Symptoms of Baby Blues

Last a few days to 2 weeks postpartum

  • Mood swings
  • Crying
  • Reduced concentration
  • Appetite problems
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

More intense and longer lasting than baby blues

  • Excessive Crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from friends and families
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Depressed mood or mood swings
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Extreme difficulty in day-to-day functioning
  • Feelings of guilt, anxiety, and fear
  • Intense irritability or anger
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Loss of pleasure in life
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Bouts of crying
  • Diminished ability to think clearly and make decisions
  • Thoughts of hurting oneself or the infant

Psychotic symptoms

  • Seeing things that don’t exist
  • Confusion
  • Rapid mood strings

Criteria for Diagnosis

  • Appetite Changes
  • Dramatic hormone changes which replicate the symptoms of depression

What are the risk factors and causes associated with Postpartum Depression?

Increased risk due to:

  • Lack of social support
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Marriage conflict or money problems
  • Substance use disorders
  • Bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder can especially lead to psychotic symptoms
  • A baby with health problems
  • Multiple births
  • Difficulty breastfeeding
  • Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
  • Stay-at-home mother
  • Previous depressive episodes postpartum or otherwise
  • Family history of depression


  • Physical changes due to a drop in hormones 
  • Emotional issues like feeling less attractive, struggling with your sense of identify, or feeling like you’ve lost control of your life

What are the complications that may arise due to Postpartum Depression?

Untreated postpartum depression can lead to chronic depression and increases a woman’s risk for developing future episodes of major depressive disorder.

Fathers may experience emotional strain which increases the risk of developing depression as well.

Children of mothers with postpartum depression are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems, such as sleeping and eating difficulties, excessive crying, and delays in language development.

Additional Resources

Watch a video that discusses one woman’s experience with postpartum depression here.

Blog Post – When it’s More Than Just the Baby Blues

Book – Pregnancy and Postpartum Anxiety

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