Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education website.
Information from Your Family Doctor
Depression During and After Pregnancy: When It's More Than the Baby Blues
Am Fam Physician. 2016 May 15;93(10):online.
See related article on peripartum depression
What is peripartum depression?
Around the time you have a baby, you might have normal mood changes. This can last for up to 10 days. It is called baby blues. Sometimes, it is more severe and lasts longer. This is called peripartum depression.
Many new mothers with peripartum depression feel better within a few weeks. Sometimes, it takes longer to feel better and treatment is needed. This is more likely in mothers who have more severe symptoms or who have had depression before.
What are the symptoms?
Your doctor may ask you to fill out a survey to see if you are having any symptoms of peripartum depression. Symptoms include:
Sadness, anxiety, and crying
Feeling scared and overwhelmed
Blaming yourself for things that aren't your fault
Losing interest in things that you've always enjoyed
Some women have thoughts of harming their babies; although these thoughts are scary, they aren't the mother's fault and don't reflect how she actually feels about her baby
Will I always feel like this?
Sometimes therapy or medicine is needed, but almost all women eventually feel better.
What can I do to help myself feel better?
Eat a healthy diet, exercise, and sleep when you can. Take walks outside with your baby. Most importantly, if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, tell your doctor right away.
Where can I get more information?
AAFP's Patient Education Resource
American Psychological Association
National Institute of Mental Health
Postpartum Support International
U.S. National Library of Medicine
This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.
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