Am I at Risk for Postpartum Depression?

Medically Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on April 12, 2023
2 min read

Being a new mom can be wonderful and tough at the same time. You’ve got a lot of new challenges -- and a lot less sleep. You may feel emotional and sometimes overwhelmed.

What you feel is common. So take a breath and be good to yourself -- it’s good for your baby, too. But if you’re concerned that your "baby blues" could be something worse, like postpartum depression, talk to your doctor right away.

Postpartum depression is a severe form of clinical depression related to pregnancy and childbirth, and it’s more common than you might think. Certain women are more likely than others to get it after their babies are born. Things that make it more likely include:

  • Past depression or postpartum depression
  • A family history of depression or mental illness
  • A traumatic life event during pregnancy -- a death in the family, for example
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Trouble during childbirth or issues with the baby’s health
  • Mixed feelings about the pregnancy
  • No strong support system

If some of those sound like what you’re dealing with, tell your doctor as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, or if you plan to get pregnant. They can help you take steps to make postpartum depression less likely to happen. If your baby is already here, your doctor can help you get treatment so you can feel more like yourself.

While you’re pregnant. Your doctor might have you answer questions on a form to learn if you have signs of depression. If you have symptoms, you and your doctor can talk about the best way to treat them. Counseling, group therapy, or medicines known as antidepressants are options you can consider. Your doctor may want you to try more than one type of treatment.

After your baby is born. Once your little one is here, get help from supportive friends and family. Nap often to stay rested, eat a healthy diet, and get regular exercise.

Your doctor may want to do an immediate follow-up check for postpartum symptoms. You might need to fill out another question form. The earlier it’s known you have postpartum depression, the sooner you can get treatment and start to recover and feel better again, which is good both for you and your baby. 

If you do have postpartum depression, your doctor may treat you with antidepressants. Only brexanolone (Zulresso) has specifically been FDA approved for postpartum treatment. It can be administered via infusion over a course of three days and has been found to bring almost immediate relief to symptoms. Oral medications you can take which can help include.