Postpartum Depression

Institutes & Services > Women's Services

Postpartum Disorders

Do you cry a lot? Do you feel irritable? Do you have sleep problems? Or do you just feel like something is not right? You could have the “baby blues” or something more. These are known as postpartum disorders. Women who experience any of these medical conditions should seek medical advice.

Baby Blues

The baby blues start within the first three days of giving birth and quickly fade away. Most new mothers may feel weepy, drained, anxious, irritable or sad. These feelings can last from 10 to 14 days. If they persist longer, you should pursue medical advice.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression (PPD) is the number one complication of pregnancy, affecting nearly 700,000 women in the United States each year. PPD is a physical disorder that can occur any time from pregnancy to a year postpartum. Up to 30 percent of new mothers may:

  • Have feelings of hopelessness, irritability, sadness, loneliness and isolation that last longer than two weeks.
  • Cry a lot.
  • Have frightening or repetitive thoughts.
  • Experience trouble eating or sleeping.

If you think you have postpartum depression, you should seek medical advice.

Postpartum Anxiety

Some mothers may experience postpartum anxiety on its own or together with symptoms of depression. Others may feel worried or panicky, fear losing control  or have chest pains or a racing heart. Postpartum anxiety may also make women feel shaky, dizzy or short of breath. If you think you have postpartum anxiety, you should seek medical advice.

Postpartum Psychosis

This rare condition can be a traumatic experience for the whole family. The mother may have severe mood swings, hallucinations, and irrational or violent thoughts. Postpartum psychosis is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Why am I experiencing postpartum depression now? I was fine for 10 months, but now I feel weepy and unable to cope.

Hormonal shifts can bring about symptoms of postpartum depression. Some women experience symptoms shortly after giving birth; however, events such as weaning your baby, starting your menstrual period again, and starting birth control pills or other medication can contribute to a late onset of postpartum depression or anxiety.

I feel anxious most of the time. I often am nervous and worried. There are times I am short of breath, dizzy or my heart races. I get hot flashes and often feel like I am losing control. Am I going crazy?

By no means are you “crazy,” nor are you alone. It sounds as if you have postpartum anxiety. There are many ways to treat postpartum anxiety. Contact your physician for more information.

My wife has been acting strangely. Sometimes she says bizarre things and sees things that are not there and then she snaps out of it and cooks dinner. Is this normal?

What your wife is going through sounds like postpartum psychosis. This rare but treatable condition is a medical emergency. Call your physician immediately. 

Please inform your health care provider if you think you have symptoms of PPD. For more information, contact: Postpartum Support International at 800-944-4773, or postpartum.net.

The smartest thing you can do for yourself and your family is to get help. You are not alone! You are worth it!

Self-Test for Postpartum Disorders

Circle the answer that most closely describes how you have felt in the past seven days.

1. I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things.

  • As much as I always could – 0 pts.
  • Not quite as much now – 1 pt.
  • Definitely not quite so much now – 2 pts.
  • Not at all – 3 pts.

2. I have looked forward with enjoyment to things.

  • As much as I ever did – 0 pts.
  • Some less than I used to – 1 pt.
  • Definitely less than I used to – 2 pts.
  • Hardly at all – 3 pts.

3. I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong.

  • Never – 0 pts.
  • Not very often – 1 pt.
  • Some of the time – 2 pts.
  • Most of the time – 3 pts.

4. I have felt worried and anxious for no good reason.

  • Not at all – 0 pts.
  • Hardly ever – 1 pt.
  • Sometimes – 2 pts.
  • Very often – 3 pts.

5. I have felt scared or panicky for no good reason.

  • Not at all – 0 pts.
  • Not very often – 1 pt.
  • Sometimes – 2 pts.
  • Quite a lot – 3 pts.

6. Things have been getting the best of me.

  • I have been coping as well as ever. – 0 pts.
  • Most of the time I have coped quite well. – 1 pt.
  • Sometimes I haven’t been coping as well as usual. – 2 pts.
  • Most of the time I haven’t been able to cope at all. – 3 pts.

7. I have been so unhappy that I have had difficulty sleeping.

  • Not at all – 0 pts.
  • Not very often – 1 pt.
  • Sometimes – 2 pts.
  • Most of the time – 3 pts.

8. I have felt sad or miserable.

  • Not at all – 0 pts.
  • Not very often – 1 pt.
  • Sometimes – 2 pts.
  • Most of the time – 3 pts.

9. I have been so unhappy that I have been crying.

  • Not at all – 0 pts.
  • Not very often – 1 pt.
  • Sometimes – 2 pts.
  • Quite a lot – 3 pts.

10. The thought of harming myself has occurred to me.

  • Never – 0 pts.
  • Hardly ever – 1 pt.
  • Sometimes – 2 pts.
  • Quite often – 3 pts.

Total __________
Add your circled scores for each question. If your score is 10 or greater, you may have postpartum depression or anxiety. Please call your health care provider.

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