Postpartum Depression



The exact cause of PDD is not known. It may be due to sudden hormonal changes during and after delivery.

Risk Factors

The risk of PDD is higher in those with:

  • A prior history of depression or PPD
  • A prior history of anxiety disorders
  • A family history of mood disorders
  • Stress or conflict at home or with a partner
  • Problems breastfeeding
  • A baby who was born very early
Central Nervous System
Female brain nerves torso
Hormonal changes in the brain may contribute to postpartum depression.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.



Problems may be:

  • Feelings of irritability, worry, or panic
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in life
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or guilt
  • Change in weight or hunger
  • Obsessive, unreasonable thoughts
  • Repetitive fears about the child’s health and welfare
  • Poor focus, memory loss, and problems making decisions
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of energy or motivation

More severe problems may be:

  • Lack of interest in your infant
  • Fear of hurting or killing yourself or your child
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Sensing or believing things that are not real
  • Loss of contact with reality


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The diagnosis may be made in a person who has had symptoms every day for at least 2 weeks.

More tests may be done to rule out other causes of depression, such as thyroid problems.



Untreated postpartum depression impacts quality of life. It can also make it hard for a mother and baby to bond. Treatment can ease symptoms and provide support until the depression has passed. Treatment may include:

  • Counseling—may be a one on one session or a support group
  • Medicine—to ease depression or anxiety and help progress in therapy

It is also important to develop a support system at home. This can include help that allows the person to get sleep, visit friends, or do activities like exercise. New parent support groups can also help.


People at risk for PDD should talk to their doctors about counseling methods that may help.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.