Postpartum Depression: Affecting 17.22% of World Population


depression also called peripartum depression can be better understood with an
example. One such example is as follows.

Postpartum depression

Lynda is 30 years
old, resides in Tuscon, Arizona, and works for a hospitality chain. She has
just delivered a child. Recently, she has started getting trouble sleeping,
loss of appetite and severe fatigue. Besides, she is feeling angry, withdrawn
and nurture the guilt of not being a good mother. She consulted a doctor who
diagnosed this condition as postpartum depression (PPD). As per the study by
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 8 women in the
United States with a recent live birth have symptoms of postpartum depression.
The recent pandemic of Covid-19 has further aggravated the condition. The situation
affects a large population worldwide. Here we try to understand it.

Depression – Meaning and Definition

depression now known as peripartum depression is a kind of depression that
women suffer after giving birth to a child. The condition is also referred to
as baby blues. The sufferer goes through difficulty in sleeping, crying and
mood swings. The sufferers may come across the feeling that she is not a good
mom. Generally, PPD starts 2-3 days after delivery and may continue for up to 2

In certain cases,
a new mom may face extreme mood swings, this condition is called postpartum

As per Oxford
Learner’s Dictionaries, postpartum depression is a medical condition where
women have a feeling of sadness or anxiety after giving birth to a child. They
have negative thoughts and they may find it hard to live a normal life.

Sometimes the
term postpartum depression is interchangeably used as postnatal depression.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Like other mental
disorders, postpartum depression also has its symptoms. Here we list its

  • The sufferer may
    experience mood swings.
  • She may cry
    excessively without a reason.
  • She may not be
    able to bond well with her baby.
  • She will fill
    withdrawn from her family and social circle.
  • Difficulty
    sleeping or excessive sleeping are also major symptoms.
  • There could be a
    feeling of guilt that she is not a good mother.
  • She may feel
    severe fatigue or lack of energy.
  • She may lose interest
    in things that she previously loved doing.
  • She may feel
  • She may have a
    feeling of anger or irritation over small issues.
  • The sufferer may
    feel that she is not worthy.
  • She will feel
    gloomy, lack concentration and not able to make decisions.
  • She may have
    thoughts of hurting others.
  • The sufferer may
    experience reduced libido.
  • She may have
    thoughts like harming herself and suicidal tendencies.

Causes of
Postpartum Depression

It Is hard to
determine the exact causes of postpartum depression but physical and emotional
changes can be attributed as reasons.


hormonal imbalance may be the reason behind postpartum depression. There is a
sharp decline in estrogen and progesterone. Hormonal secretion from the thyroid
gland also gets reduced which leads to a feeling of fatigue and depression.

Sleep Issues

Women who have
sleep deprivation or difficulty sleeping may not be able to concentrate on
things. Such women after pregnancy may develop postpartum depression.

Anxiety Issues

Some women are
highly anxious about caring for a baby and they think that their carelessness
may prove costly to their baby. Such a condition may further aggravate
postpartum depression.

Low Self Esteem

Women with low
self-esteem may develop postpartum depression. Some of them may have guilt for
not looking beautiful, and attractive and may be feeling that they have not
handled their life well. This condition may develop into postpartum depression.

Who are at the risk
of postpartum depression?

Most women who
have given birth to a child recently are at risk of developing postpartum
depression. It is not necessary that only first-time mothers are prone to it.
However, some women are more at risk than others. Here are the risk factors.

  • Women with a history
    of depression – pre- or post-delivery – are at high risk.
  • The risk of PPD
    is also high for women with bipolar disorder.
  • Those who have
    previously suffered from it.
  • Your family has a
    history of depression.
  • You have faced
    bad incidents in the years preceding pregnancy.
  • Women who have
    delivered twins, triplets, or multiple babies are also at high risk.
  • Bad financial
    conditions can also aggravate the risk.
  • Women not
    enjoying a healthy relationship with spouses can also develop it.
  • Women with
    problems with breastfeeding are also likely to develop PPD.
  • Women who have
    not given birth to a healthy child are also at risk.

When should you
visit a doctor?

depression could lead to major complications if not treated well and that too
within time. Here are the conditions when you should visit a doctor.

  • When you are
    thinking of harming yourself or your newborn, then you should see a doctor.
  • If thoughts of
    suicide or death are regularly coming to your mind.
  • Continued
    depression for around two weeks.
  • You are feeling
    hopeless, worthless or guilty.
  • You are feeling
  • You are not able
    to concentrate or make decisions.

Complications Due
to Postpartum Depression

depression may bring with it a set of complications if not treated well. Here
we list the major complications.

Complication Among Mothers

As we all know,
women are on the receiving end when it comes to complications of postpartum
depression. If they are treated well, the condition may develop into chronic
depressive disorder. Even after treatment, some patients suffer from

Complications Among Children              

Children of
mothers suffering from postpartum depression may face sleeping, eating and
learning problems. They cry more than normal.

Complication Among Fathers

What happens in
the family affects other family members as well. So, when a mother suffers from
postpartum depression, there are chances that their husband may suffer from it.

Screening or
Diagnosis of Postpartum Depression

You have heard
about postpartum depression but how you can be sure that you are suffering from

  • If the symptoms
    of depression last for more than two weeks within the year of childbirth, you
    should consult a doctor.
  • If the mother is
    not able to properly care for herself or her newborn, she should be taken to a
  • While screening,
    your doctor will ask several questions. He also prescribes tests to ascertain
    if there is any other reason for depression.
  • The doctor will
    give you a questionnaire to fill out so that he can have an idea of your

Types of
Postpartum Mood Disorders

Postpartum mood
disorders can broadly be divided into three types. These types are as follows.

Baby Blues

Baby blues is a
condition in which a women suddenly feels mood swings after giving birth to a
child. She may feel very happy at one time and very sad at another. Around 70%
of women who have given birth to a child suffer from this condition. The
situation lasts for 1-2 weeks after childbirth. In most cases, no medical
intervention is required.


depression is a medical condition that occurs in women after giving birth to a
child. This medical condition is serious and may lead to other complications if
not treated well. A doctor advises you on psychotherapy or medication or both
as part of the treatment.


psychosis is a medical condition that is serious in nature. It begins within
three months of giving birth to a child. In such a condition, the suffering
woman may experience hallucination, delusion and difficulty in sleeping.
Agitation, anger and restlessness are other symptoms.

Treatment for
Postpartum Depression

After diagnosis
and warning signs it is time to look for treatment. Here we try to understand
various treatment options available for depression.


When you visit a
doctor, he will prescribe antidepressants. Through this, he tries to maintain
chemical balance in your brain that may be responsible for mood swings.

serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake
inhibitors (SNRIs) and Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are major medicines
prescribed to treat postpartum depression. You shouldn’t expect immediate
benefits as these medicines take three to four weeks to show results.

As hormonal
changes are cited as a reason for PPD, hormone therapy is recommended in some

But here is a
word of caution. Hormone therapy has its side effects. So, you should discuss
it with your therapist.

therapy (ECT)

In cases where
medication is not effective, you may be given electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
In this procedure, current is passed through the patient’s brain to create a
seizure. The treatment has been found effective in different forms of
depression including postpartum depression. 

Read more about Electroconvulsive
therapy (ECT)


Psychotherapy has
also been found effective in treating postpartum depression. Cognitive behavior
therapy and interpersonal therapy is being used for treating PPD.

Behavior Therapy (CBT)

behavior therapy has been found effective in controlling the symptoms of
postpartum depression. The therapy works well in a combination of medication.
Several studies have shown that PPD is better managed when patients are taking
medication and CBT both.

behavior therapy is aimed at changing your mind or behavior patterns. 

Also Read 

10 Self-Help Books on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)


In this therapy,
the therapists talk to you about your problems. He tries to know what is making
you worried. Based on this talk he may suggest ways to come out of this

Natural Remedies

Some natural
remedies have also been found effective in treating postpartum disorders.
Regular exercise and yoga have shown good results.

Self-help for
Postpartum Depression

Apart from
medication, psychotherapy and natural remedies, you can also get benefitted by
taking good care of yourself. Here are some self-help tips for you.

Nurture Healthy

Nurturing healthy
habits always pays and it also plays well in postpartum depression. Eating
healthy, saying no to alcohol and regular exercise could be few of these

Get Enough Sleep

Reduced sleep can
make your postpartum depression worse. You should take enough sleep as per your
requirements. Sleep on a comfortable bed, with no noise nearby and lights off.

Don’t Spread
Yourself Too Much

People who try to
do everything and that too with perfection are often stressed. Their postpartum
depression worsens.So, it is wise to have realistic ambitions.    

Have Some Me Time

You should have
some me time so that you can look back and think what is plaguing you. Due to
your busy schedule, you may not be able to reflect. This time can also be used
to do fulfilling your hobbies.

Don’t Be an

Isolation may
worsen your postpartum depression. So, you should be in the company of family,
friends, and others who care for you.

Read books

Several books
have been written on postpartum depression. These books are replete with coping
strategies and dos and don’ts. You should order one book and read it in your
spare time.

Also Read

Depression –
Meaning, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and More

Common Myths
About Postpartum Depression

Lack of proper
understanding and misconception have given space for myths around PPD. Here we
list the common myths about postpartum depression.

Myth – It is less
severe than depression.

Fact – Some
people have the misconception that postpartum depression is less severe than other
forms of depression. But there is no truth in it as PPD is as severe as other
forms of depression.

Myth – It happens
only due to hormones.

Fact – There is a
myth that hormonal changes are the sole reason behind it. But in reality, it
caused due to a combination of factors including hormonal imbalance.

Myth – It happens with
the first baby only.

Fact – It is also a
myth. You can get postpartum depression after the birth of any number of
babies. So don’t think that if you have not got postpartum depression after the
birth of the first baby then you can’t get it later.

Myth – Postpartum
depression and baby blue are the same.

Fact – Many people think
that postpartum depression is a condition like baby blue that will pass very
soon. The reality is that it lasts for a long and can have serious implications
if not treated well.

Myth – Postpartum
depression affects women only.

Fact – People think that
PPD affects women only. But it affects men also. Though the percentage is less.
As per a recent study 1 in 10 men get depressed after becoming a father.

Myth – Postpartum
depression begins just after the birth of the child.

Fact – There is a
common belief that postpartum depression begins just after birth. It is true
for most cases. However, there are exceptions to the rule. It has been observed
that postpartum depression in some cases starts during pregnancy while in other
instances it starts after a year of childbirth.

Myth – Postpartum
depression can be prevented.

Fact – There is a
general misconception that postpartum depression can be prevented. You can do
little about it. But you can be careful if you have suffered from it in past.
You should consult a doctor who will keep examining you for its signs.

Myth – Women with
PPD may harm their babies.

Fact – People
believe that women suffering from postpartum depression harm their babies. But
it is far from the truth. Women suffering from PPD have more chances to harm
themselves than their babies.

You shouldn’t
confuse postpartum depression with postpartum psychosis. Harming babies is a
symptom of postpartum psychosis which is a rare disease.

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