Postpartum depression: What you need to know

July 14, 2023

Many new moms have strong feelings of sadness, anxiety (worry) and tiredness that last for a long time after giving birth. These feelings make it hard to care for your baby and for yourself. When you feel this way for longer than 2 weeks, you may have postpartum depression (PPD).

PPD is a serious medical condition that needs treatment to get better. And PPD is more than the baby blues. The baby blues are feelings of sadness a woman may have in the first few days after having a baby. These feelings usually go away on their own. But PPD doesn't just go away.

What are the signs and symptoms of PPD?

You may have PPD if you have five or more signs or symptoms that last longer than 2 weeks. Signs and symptoms of PPD include: 

  • Feeling depressed most of the day every day

  • Having severe mood swings

  • Having little interest in things you normally like to do

  • Feeling tired all the time

  • Having trouble bonding with your baby

  • Thinking about hurting yourself or your baby

  • Thinking about suicide (killing yourself)

If you think you have signs or symptoms of PPD, call your health care provider right away. There are things you and your provider can do to help you feel better. If you’re worried about hurting yourself or your baby, call emergency services at 911.

How is PPD treated?

If you think you may have PPD, see your health care provider right away. Your provider can be:

  • Your prenatal care provider. This is the provider who gave you medical care during pregnancy.

  • Your primary care provider. This is your main health care provider who gives you general medical care.

  • A mental health provider. This may be a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, counselor or a therapist.

The sooner you see your provider about PPD, the better. You can get started on treatment so you can take good care of yourself and your baby. Treatment can include: 

  • Counseling, like CBT and IPT

  • Support groups. These are groups of people who meet together or go online to share their feelings and experiences about certain topics. Ask your provider or counselor to help you find a PPD support group.

  • Medicine. PPD often is treated with medicine.

If you have PPD, what can you do to help you feel better?

Here’s what you can do to help the treatment from your provider work better: 

  • Stay healthy and fit.

  • Ask for and accept help.

  • Reduce your stress. 

If you have PPD, you’re not alone, and it’s not your fault. In fact, researchers found that 1 in 3 new mothers during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic had postpartum depression. So, if you think you have PPD, call your health care provider. Treatment can help you feel better.