Postpartum depression (PPD) is a common mental health condition affecting about 1 out of every 9 women who give birth. PPD is different than the expected fatigue and mood swings present for about 2 weeks after giving birth. If the fatigue, overwhelm, or moods swings last beyond those 2 weeks, or seem to be worsening, it is time to talk with your healthcare provider.
Symptoms of PPD can be mild or severe. Common symptoms include:
- Feelings of sadness or emptiness that don’t go away
- Extreme fatigue
- Lack of interest in things you normally care about
- Poor appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty bonding with your child
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
If you have a history or family history of depression, have financial difficulties or lack of emotional support, or had an unplanned pregnancy, you are at a higher risk of developing PPD.
I think I might have PPD. What do I do now?
First, reach out to your healthcare provider and to a support person you can trust. Your healthcare provider will want to talk with you and will give you a questionnaire to help determine how to best help you. Your provider may refer you to a mental health counselor for talk therapy, prescribe medications, or both. Both you and your baby benefit from treatment.
It is important to talk with your support person as well, whether that be a partner, family member, or friend you can trust. There are things you can do to help yourself while you are going through PPD, such as getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, and getting enough exercise.
For more help:
Postpartum Support International has a non-emergency helpline at 1-800-994-4PPD (4773). You can talk with someone about your experiences and questions, and they can help you get connected with local resources.
If you find yourself thinking about suicide, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
National Institute of Mental Health (2019). Perinatal depression. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/perinatal-depression/index.shtml
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health (2019). Moms’ mental health matters. Retrieved from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/ncmhep/initiatives/moms-mental-health-matters/moms
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health (2019). Postpartum depression. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/postpartum-depression