Postpartum depression - Symptom
Depression - postpartum; Postnatal depression
The symptoms of postpartum depression are the same as the symptoms of depression that occurs at other times in life. Along with a sad or depressed mood, you may have some of the following symptoms:
- Agitation or irritability
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Feeling withdrawn or unconnected
- Lack of pleasure or interest in most or all activities
- Loss of concentration
- Loss of energy
- Problems doing tasks at home or work
- Negative feelings toward the baby
- Significant anxiety
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Trouble sleeping
A mother with postpartum depression may also:
- Be unable to care for herself or her baby
- Be afraid to be alone with her baby
- Have negative feelings toward the baby or even think about harming the baby (Although these feelings are scary, they are almost never acted on. Still you should tell your doctor about them right away.)
- Worry intensely about the baby, or have little interest in the baby
Signs and tests:
There is no single test to diagnose postpartum depression. Your doctor may have you complete a questionnaire (such as the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) at your office visit to look for signs of depression or risks for depression.
Sometimes depression following pregnancy can be related to other medical conditions. Hypothyroidism, for example, causes symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, and depression. Women with postpartum depression should have blood tests to screen for medical causes of depression.
- Reviewed last on: 9/4/2010
- David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women's Mental Health: Postpartum Psychiatric Disorders. Accessed August 10, 2010.
Pearlstein T, Howard M, Salisbury A, Zlotnick C. Postpartum depression. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009;200:357-364.
ACOG Committee on Practice Bulletins--Obstetrics. ACOG Practice Bulletin: Clinical management guidelines for obstetrician-gynecologists number 92. Use of psychiatric medications during pregnancy and lactation. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;111:1001-1020.
Depression during and after pregnancy. Updated March 6, 2009. Accessed August 10, 2010.
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