Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression usually begin about four weeks after childbirth. Some of these symptoms are:

  • Feelings of sadness or emptiness
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Crying frequently, often for no apparent reason
  • Feelings of irritability with bouts of anger and temper tantrums
  • Constant fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Abnormal appetite characterized by overeating or a loss of appetite
  • Feelings of low self-esteem, a sense of inadequacy or a sense of failure
  • Disinterest in activities that were formerly pleasurable
  • A tendency to isolate oneself and not communicate with family and friends
  • Obsessive concern with the baby
  • A lack of interest in caring for the baby
Postpartum psychosis is a severe form of postpartum depression that occurs on rare occasion. It is characterized by a loss of contact with reality and is considered to be a medical emergency. Hospitalization is usually required in such cases for the safety of both the mother and the baby. It usually develops within two weeks of childbirth, sometimes within two days, and the symptoms include:

  • Visual and aural hallucinations
  • Delusional behavior including paranoid and irrational beliefs
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Thoughts of harming or killing the baby
  • Extreme agitation and violent outbursts
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Refusing to eat
  • Refusing to sleep
  • Confusion and disorientation

Frequently asked questions
  1. Laura J. Miller, Elizabeth M. LaRusso, Preventing Postpartum Depression, Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Volume 34, Issue 1, March 2011, Pages 53-65, ISSN 0193-953X, 10.1016/j.psc.2010.11.010.
  2. Christina Munoz, Janyce Agruss, Amy Haeger, Lynn Sivertsen, Postpartum Depression: Detection and Treatment in the Primary Care Setting, The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, Volume 2, Issue 4, April 2006, Pages 247-253, ISSN 1555-4155, 10.1016/j.nurpra.2006.02.008.