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What Exactly Is Postpartum Depression?

Learn what postpartum depression is and why all child-bearing women should know about it.

By
Sanaz Majd, MD
4-minute read

What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?

Those with postpartum often experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Depressed mood or sadness

  • Crying spells

  • No desire or interest in previously pleasurable activities or hobbies

  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

  • Inability to focus or concentrate

  • Abnormal appetite, whether it’s unusually increased or decreased

  • Fatigue and abnormal sleeping (yet a tad difficult to distinguish from normal newborn care)

  • Feeling of being overwhelmed that you cannot care for the baby

  • Thoughts of hurting oneself, someone else, or the baby

Up to half of all women with postpartum depression have thoughts of hurting the baby, which can be very upsetting or scary.  Just because the thoughts are there doesn’t necessarily mean that the intention to hurt the baby is really there, but experiencing these thoughts should be a great signal that you need help, and need help right away.  If left untreated, there may be a real but rare potential for the thoughts to turn into something more dangerous and tragic, and so these thoughts should not be ignored.

Who Gets Postpartum Depression?

Any woman can get postpartum depression.  However there are certain factors that may make it even more likely, including:

  • Postpartum depression with a previous pregnancy:  25 to 50% of women with a prior postpartum depression will have another episode in a future pregnancy.

  • History of depression at other times aside from pregnancy

  • Major life stressors that occur during pregnancy or after giving birth

  • Lack of support during pregnancy

  • Personal relationship difficulties

  • Family history of depression 

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Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

About the Author

Sanaz Majd, MD

Dr. Sanaz Majd is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. Her special interests are women's health and patient education.