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Understanding Postpartum Depression -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?

Symptoms of postpartum depression (PDD) can be divided into three categories:

  • Postpartum blues ("baby blues"): Very short in duration, may not require formal treatment but supportive care only.
  • Postpartum depression: Lasts longer, is more debilitating, and requires medical care.
  • Postpartum psychosis: Most severe form, requires aggressive psychiatric care.

There are many possible symptoms of postpartum depression, including the following:

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  • Inability to sleep or sleeping more than normal
  • Change in appetite
  • Extreme concern and worry about the baby or a lack of interest or feelings for the baby
  • Feeling unable to love the baby or your family
  • Anger toward the baby, your partner, or other family members
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Fear of harming your baby; these thoughts may be obsessive, and you may be afraid to be left alone in the house with your baby.
  • Irritability
  • Sadness or excessive crying
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Feelings of doubt, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, or restlessness
  • Lethargy or extreme fatigue
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or other usual activities
  • Mood swings marked by exaggerated highs and lows
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Numbness or tingling in your arms or legs
  • Hyperventilating
  • Frequent calls to the pediatrician with an inability to be reassured
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, which may include thinking about or even planning suicide
  • Obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors that are intrusive

Call Your Doctor About Postpartum Depression If:

You have symptoms or signs of depression that have lasted longer than two weeks after childbirth or that began within two months of giving birth.

Call 911 or get immediate emergency help if you have either of the following symptoms:

  • You have hallucinations and delusions about yourself or your baby; don't wait, this is an emergency.
  • You have thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby; this is also an emergency and needs immediate help.


Suicidal thoughts or attempts (intent or attempt to kill oneself) and homicidal thoughts or attempts (intent or attempt to kill another person) are very serious and are real risks of postpartum depression. These symptoms are not a myth or imaginary, and several cases have been well publicized. Seek immediate medical care if you have suicidal or homicidal thoughts.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on March 04, 2015

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