Feeling a little sad and worried after delivering a baby, or what is referred to as the “baby blues,” can be normal and usually passes after about two weeks. However, if you are feeling very sad or anxious for more than a few weeks, you may be experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, a common condition that you should not ignore. 

What is Postpartum Depression?

 Postpartum depression leads to deep sadness during or after pregnancy. It can last weeks or months, which can affect your health and interfere with day-to-day life by making it difficult to get out of bed or care for your baby. Symptoms are different for everyone. If you are experiencing any of the following for more than 2 weeks, call your doctor, nurse, or midwife: 
  • Feeling disconnected from the baby or others
  • Feeling like a bad mom or that you cannot care for the baby
  • Having thoughts about hurting the baby or yourself
  • Crying a lot
  • Feeling angry all the time
  • Pushing away family or friends
  • Sleeping and eating a lot or not enough
  • Having little energy or motivation
  • Losing pleasure in your favorite activities
  • Trouble focusing or making decisions
Sometimes, mothers might try to brush off these symptoms or hide them to not worry anyone or because you might feel like a bad mom for being sad. However, feeling like this does not make you a bad mom. Postpartum depression affects millions of women, and young mothers are even more likely to experience it. Fortunately, there is treatment for postpartum depression (see below). 

Causes of Postpartum Depression 

During and after pregnancy, your body goes through extreme changes. Changes in female hormones can trigger symptoms of postpartum depression because they are the highest during pregnancy and quickly drop after giving birth. Other factors that may contribute to postpartum depression include: 
  • Feeling tired after labor or from lack of sleep
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Doubting your ability to be a good mom or feeling the need to be perfect
  • Stressful events or managing a lot of responsibilities
  • Lack of adequate support from family and friends
  • Family history of depression
  • Feeling less attractive

How to Get Better and Feel Better 

Postpartum depression can get better with treatment. You do not have to go through this alone. Talk to your loved ones and call your doctor, nurse, or midwife if your symptoms last for more than 2 weeks or become intense quickly. In addition to talking to a health care professional, you can begin feeling better at home by: 
  • Asking for help when you need it
  • Napping and resting as much as you can
  • Hanging out with friends and family
  • Talking about your feelings with loved ones
  • Talking with other mothers to learn about their experiences
  • Joining a support group
  • Avoiding major life changes when possible

Why Treating Postpartum Depression is Important 

Treating postpartum depression is important for helping you get better so you can be at your best. Untreated postpartum depression can also affect children throughout their lives and lead to: 
  • Learning and language development problems
  • Crying more than usual
  • Mother-child bonding problems
  • Difficulty dealing with stress or social situations

Helpful Resources

National Suicide Prevention Hotline If you are experiencing severe depression or thoughts of self-harm, call 1-800-273-8255. T
reatment options
Talk to your doctor, nurse, or midwife about treatment options for depression or find a local health center/clinic or mental health services in your area. These services are covered by insurance, and free services are available for people with lower incomes.
Postpartum Support Helpline You can call 1-800-944-4773 or text or text 503-894-9453 to chat with an expert in minutes. You can also search for local resources here.
Postpartum depression information (Office of Women’s Health) Find out more about postpartum depression here.