Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression is a treatable medical illness in which the mother has feelings of sadness, exhaustion, anxiety, and indifference after the birth of a child. These symptoms may occur right after the birth, or up to a few months later. It can affect women of different races or ethnicities, ages, or economic backgrounds.

Postpartum depression is not the fault of the affected woman, and is not a sign of personal weakness. While the exact cause is unknown, experts think that certain chemical changes may occur during and after pregnancy that may contribute to its development. Even if a woman has a mild feeling of sadness, which is sometimes called “the baby blues” for more than 2 weeks after childbirth, she could have postpartum depression, and should seek help without delay. She should also get immediate help if she has any thoughts of harming the baby or herself, has uncontrollable crying, or has thoughts of death or suicide. Sources of initial help in addition to a physician may be a trusted family member, friend, or religious/faith leader.

Our Mental Health Channel section on Depression provides much additional information on depression.