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Postpartum Depression

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Does this describe your symptoms?


  • Feeling depressed

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness

  • Decreased pleasure or interest in daily activities

  • Postpartum (less than 1 year since delivery)

General Information

  • Postpartum "Blues" - Nearly half of all women have some degree of depression ("baby blues") after delivery. Baby Blues usually starts between day 3 and day 10 after delivery and lasts 2-14 days. The symptoms often improve with simple measures such as eating healthy, sleeping more, and obtaining support from family and friends. Sometimes the symptoms worsen and psychiatric evaluation is required.

  • Postpartum Depression - This term is used to describe the major depression that 10-15 % of women experience during the postpartum period. It usually begins during the first month after delivery. But it may occur anytime during the 1-2 years after delivery. Treatment may require community support services, psychiatric counseling, or antidepressant medications.

What are the Symptoms of Depression? - Individuals with depression have a sad mood. They often describe decreased pleasure or interest in daily activities. Sometimes individuals with depression may also have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Significant weight loss (or gain) and not dieting

  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or increased sleeping

  • Agitation or mental slowness

  • Loss of energy

  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

  • Diminished ability to concentrate

  • Recurrent thoughts of death; suicidal ideation, gestures, or attempts

  • Anxiety

Additional Resources

1. National Hopeline Network

2. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment

3. National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)

  • http://www.nami.org

  • Toll-free phone number: 800-950-6264

  • “NAMI is dedicated to the eradication of mental illnesses and to the improvement of the quality of life of all whose lives are affected by these diseases… The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) is a network of local support groups for the mentally ill and their families...”


When to Call Your Doctor

call 911

Call 911 Now (you may need an ambulance) If

  • Suicide attempt

  • Feeling like harming yourself or killing yourself

    • ...or call your local suicide crisis line NOW

    • ...or call the National Hopeline Network NOW for suicide counseling: 800-784-2433.

call now

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • You feel weak or very sick

  • You feel severely depressed (e.g., multiple symptoms of depression)

  • You are thinking of hurting your baby

  • Strange, bizarre, or confused behavior

call within 24 hours

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think you need to be seen

  • You want to talk with a counselor (mental health worker, psychiatrist, etc.)

  • You are fearful of being left alone with baby

  • Your symptoms interfere with caring for your baby

  • Your symptoms interfere with work or school or other activities

  • Alcohol or drug abuse

call within 24 hours

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns

  • Depression symptoms occur more than 1 month after delivery

  • Depression symptoms persist longer than 2 weeks

  • Any prior psychiatric illness (e.g., manic-depression, schizophrenia)

home care

Self Care at Home If

  • Baby Blues - Mild depression symptoms and it is less than 1 month since delivery



  1. Reassurance: Many women feel sad and depressed at some point during the days and weeks after delivery. These changes in mood are called the "baby blues." Women with Baby Blues do get through this -- even women who feel as badly as you feel now. You can be helped.

  2. Suggestions for Healthy Living - there are things that you can do to make yourself feel better:

    • Eat healthy - Eat a well-balanced diet. Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day.

    • Get more sleep - Try to take naps while the baby is sleeping during the day. Ask for help from friends, family, or church; if someone comes over during waking hours to help, then you can take a longer nap. Have the baby sleep in another room; you will sleep more soundly.

    • Communicate - Share how you are feeling with someone in your life who is a good listener. Make certain that your husband, family, or friends know how you are feeling.

    • Exercise regularly - take a daily walk.

    • Stay active - Get out of the house periodically. Go on an outing with a family member or a friend. Go to the store. Go to a movie.

    • Avoid alcohol.

  3. Expected Course: Generally, baby blues lasts 2-14 days.

  4. Call Your Doctor If:

    • You become worse

    • You develop any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

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