Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education website.

brand logo

Am Fam Physician. 2016;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?

Your doctor

AAFP's Patient Education Resource

American Psychological Association

National Institute of Mental Health

Postpartum Support International

U.S. National Library of Medicine

Continue Reading


More in AFP

More in Pubmed

Copyright © 2016 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP.  See permissions for copyright questions and/or permission requests.