Postpartum Depression

Is this your symptom?

  • Postpartum (less than one year having a baby) and
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feelings of sadness or having no hope
  • Decreased joy from or interest in daily activities

Some Basics...

  • Postpartum "Blues:" Nearly half of all women feel sad or depressed after delivery. This is called "Baby Blues". Baby Blues most often start between 3-10 days after having a baby. They last 2-14 days. Healthy living habits can help a woman feel better. These include eating healthy, sleeping more, and getting support from family and friends. Sometimes, the problems get worse. If this happens, psychiatric help is needed.
  • Postpartum Depression: this is a major depression that 10-15% of women have after delivery. It most often begins during the first month after having a baby. But it may begin at any time during the 1-2 years after delivery. Women with postpartum depression can be treated. Psychiatric help, support services, and antidepressant drugs can help a woman to recover.


The most common symptom is feeling sad. Women often describe decreased joy from or interest in daily activities. They have less energy. Sometimes women may have one or more of these:

  • Major weight loss (or gain) and not dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping a lot
  • Easily upset
  • Mental slowness
  • Loss of energy
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Not able to focus
  • Thoughts of death or about hurting oneself
  • Anxiety


  • It can be treated with counseling or with medications. Sometimes both are needed.
  • Healthy living habits can make a person feel better. These include eating healthy and regular sleep. Exercise is also helpful.

When to Call for Postpartum Depression

Call 911 Now

  • Attempted suicide
  • Feeling like harming yourself or killing yourself
  • You think you have a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • You feel severely depressed
  • You are thinking of hurting your baby
  • Acting very strange or confused
  • You feel weak or very sick
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • You want to talk with a mental health worker, psychiatrist, or counselor
  • You are afraid to be left alone with your baby
  • Your symptoms keep you from taking good care of your baby
  • Your symptoms keep you from working or going to school or other activities
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Depression symptoms and it is more than 1 month after delivery
  • Depression symptoms last more than 2 weeks
  • Had a past psychiatric illness (manic-depression, schizophrenia)
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Baby Blues (mild depression) and it is less than 1 month since delivery

Care Advice

General Advice for Postpartum Depression

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Nearly half of all women feel sad or depressed after delivery. This is called "Baby Blues."
    • Women with Baby Blues do get better. Even women who feel as bad as you feel now. You can be helped.
    • Healthy living habits can help you to feel better.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Tips for Healthy Living: There are things you can do to feel better. These include:
    • 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. Ask for help from friends, family, or your community. If someone comes over to help, then you can take a longer nap. Have the baby sleep in a different room. This will help you sleep more soundly.
    • Communicate: Share how you are feeling with someone. Make sure that your husband, family, or friends know how you are feeling.
    • Exercise: Take a daily walk.
    • Stay active: Spend time outside of your home. Go on an outing with a family member or a friend. Go to the store. Go to a movie.
    • Avoid alcohol.
  3. What to Expect: Most of the time, Baby Blues will last 2-14 days.
  4. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Sadness or depression lasts more than 2 weeks
    • You want to talk with a mental health worker, psychiatrist, or counselor
    • You feel like harming yourself
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

Internet Resources and Referral Phone Numbers

  1. NAMI HelpLine:
    • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
    • The NAMI HelpLine is an information and referral source for finding community mental health programs.
    • Toll-free number: 800-950-NAMI (6264). Monday through Friday from 10 am- 6 pm (Eastern Time).
    • Email:
    • Website: NAMI.
  2. SAMHSA National Helpline:
    • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
    • SAMHSA's National Helpline is also known as "the Treatment Referral Routing Service. This helpline provides 24-hour free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention and recovery in English and Spanish."
    • Phone number: 800-662-4357
    • Website: Find Help and Treatment.
  3. Mood Disorder Organizations - ADAA:
    • Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA)
    • Phone number: (240) 485-1001
    • Website and Find a Therapist: ADAA.

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

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

Last Reviewed: 9/21/2019 1:00:25 AM
Last Updated: 3/14/2019 1:00:26 AM

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