Postpartum depression

Medical Specialties: Internal medicine, Obstetrics/gynecology, Psychiatry

Clinical Definition

Postpartum depression is characterized by an emotional disturbance including depressed mood in the weeks to months following childbirth. It is distinct from postpartum blues, which is generally mild and resolves with a week or two after giving birth. The cause of postpartum depression is not known, but fluctuating hormones may alter brain chemistry in some women.

In Our Own Words

Postpartum depression can be similar to other forms of depression, and it may develop shortly after giving birth. Some new moms develop short periods of crying or moodiness, which is referred to as the baby blues. Typically the baby blues only last a few days. Postpartum depression is different. Symptoms are more intense and last longer than the baby blues. Dads can also suffer depression after childbirth, with rates peaking at 3 to 6 months postpartum.

The reason why some women develop postpartum depression in not understood but risk factors include a history of depression, marital conflict, and living without a partner. In addition, mood disturbances may be influenced by changing hormone levels after giving birth.

Relevant Conditions
  • Depression
  • Panic, obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Postpartum psychosis
Side Effects
  • Sadness
  • Crying
  • Guilt
  • Loss in interest in activities
  • Difficulty bonding
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