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All You Need to Know About Postpartum Mood Disorders

The usually festive postpartum period is sadly not always sunshine and rainbows. According to the CDC, 1 in 10 women reportedly suffer from postpartum depression. In 2020, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America pointed out that approximately 80% of mothers have experienced suffering from different postpartum mood disorders worldwide. Typically, postpartum mood disorder begins within the first two to three days after delivery and may last for up to two weeks.

Postpartum Mood Disorder can manifest itself in many different types, but usually, the disorders include postpartum depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, traumatic stress disorders, and baby blues. 

Postpartum Depression (PPD)

PPD is a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes in some women after giving birth. In most cases, PPD begins within four weeks after birth, and according to the WHO, 1 in 7 women may experience PPD a year after delivery. Additionally, 30-70% experience symptoms for one year or longer. Symptoms of PPD may include Sadness, loss of interest, tiredness, insomnia, restlessness, worthlessness and excessive guilt, difficulty concentrating, and indecision. In the worst cases, it could lead to suicidal ideas and thoughts of death

According to the clinical study, PPD happens for many reasons. Postpartum depression is associated with reduced mother-infant bonding, increased marital stress, and divorce. Moreover, other entities that could affect PPD would be a history of depression before or during the pregnancy and ambivalence about the pregnancy. Family history of mood disorders and having a child with special needs or health problems also might affect the mother-to-be. The mother's age, social environment, and stress are additional factors. 

Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (POCD)

POCD is one of the most misunderstood perinatal disorders. According to statistics, approximately 3-5% of new mothers will experience symptoms of POCD. These mothers struggle especially struggle with intrusive thoughts about accidentally hurting their newborn

Other symptoms include hypervigilance over the infant, fear of being left alone with the child, severe fear about the child's health, and, in worse case scenarios, SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

There is no exact cause of POCD. Its onset has a lot to do with the woman’s mental health history and other elements in her life. Many women with ongoing OCD before childbirth find that having a baby provides more uncertainties and responsibilities that trigger their anxiety.

Postpartum Bipolar Disorder (PBD)

PBD is defined by mood episodes such as mania, hypomania, or depression that can begin during pregnancy or after delivery. For mothers diagnosed with PBD prior, the recurrence risk of the PDB rises after birth due to the influx and change of hormones. 

Early recognition of women with bipolar disorder in pregnancy is critical as the risk of postpartum depression is high. Symptoms of PBD list unusually upbeat attitude, like hyper-performance, overachieving, and sleeping less than typically during an episode of mania. Throughout a depressive episode, symptoms could include excessively crying, insomnia, being sad, and thoughts of suicide. The best way of treating PBD is by talking to your primary health care provider and making an individualized plan in cooperation with a therapist and psychiatrist. The earlier it is found, the lower the risk of severe consequences for mother and child.

Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder typically known as birth trauma. It could be caused by an unwanted c-section, a traumatic birth, postpartum natal care, preeclampsia, unexpected birth with a higher risk for the infant, or significant postpartum tearing.

Symptoms of PTSD may be expressed by having flashbacks, nightmares, and insomnia, different behavior like irritability or aggressive behavior. Furthermore, one could lose trust in friends and family members and could try avoiding feelings or memories. People with postpartum mood disorders often face barriers to being diagnosed and receiving treatment. Women suffering from it should ask for help for their doctors as soon as possible. There are two ways for treatments: medication and therapy.

According to clinical studies, antidepressants directly affect the brain or another side effect as they alter the chemicals to adjust the mood. And the side effects include fatigue, decreased sex drive, and dizziness. Moreover, some antidepressants are safe to take if you are breastfeeding, but others may not (be sure to take medicine under suggestions from your doctor).

Baby Blues

The baby blues are feelings of sadness that occur the first few days after birth and can last up to 2 weeks. Symptoms include drastic chances of emotions, feeling tired, losing interest in work or hobbies, and feeling hopeless or overwhelmed. Roughly 80% of new parents have baby blues (March of Dimes, 2021).

To help combat baby blues, try to get as much sleep as possible, eat and exercise, take care of yourself, and ask for help from family and friends. Avoiding drugs and alcohol and support groups may also help with the symptoms.
Should the symptoms not go away, contact your primary health care provider to discuss how to proceed. Below we leave a picture to differentiate between baby blues and postpartum depression. 

Source: Baby blues after pregnancy


Hendrick, V. C. (2006). Psychiatric disorders in pregnancy and the postpartum: principles and treatment (Ser. Current clinical practice). Humana Press.

Postpartum Disorders | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. (2019).

‌What are the baby blues? Postpartum mood disorders 101. (n.d.).

‌Stone, K. (2010, October 8). How Many Women Get Postpartum Depression? The Statistics on PPD. POSTPARTUM PROGRESS.

Cleveland Clinic. (2018, January 1). Postpartum Depression: Types, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention. Cleveland Clinic.

‌Pregnancy or Postpartum Obsessive Symptoms | Postpartum Support International (PSI). (n.d.).

‌Baby Blues. (n.d.). Gesundheitsportal. Retrieved August 10, 2022, from

NHS. (2020, December 7). Feeling depressed after childbirth.

March of Dimes. (2018). Baby blues after pregnancy.

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