Depression

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideLearn to Spot Depression: Symptoms, Warning Signs, Medication

Learn to Spot Depression: Symptoms, Warning Signs, Medication

Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a condition that describes a range of physical and emotional changes that many mothers can have after having a baby. PPD can be treated with medication and counseling. Talk with your health-care professional right away if you think you have PPD.

There are three types of PPD women can have after giving birth:

  1. The so-called "baby blues" happen in many women in the days right after childbirth. A new mother can have sudden mood swings, such as feeling very happy and then feeling very sad or angry. She may cry for no reason and can feel impatient, irritable, restless, anxious, lonely, and sad. The baby blues may last only a few hours or as long as one to two weeks after delivery. The baby blues do not always require treatment from a health-care professional. Often, sharing child-care duties, joining a support group of new moms, or talking with other moms helps.
  2. Postpartum depression (PPD) can happen a few days or even months after childbirth. PPD can happen after the birth of any child, not just the first child. A woman can have feelings similar to the baby blues -- sadness, despair, anxiety, irritability -- but she feels them much more strongly than she would with the baby blues. PPD often keeps a woman from doing the things she needs to do every day. When a woman's ability to function is affected, this is a sure sign that she needs to see her health-care professional right away. If a woman does not get treatment for PPD, symptoms can get worse and last for as long as one year. While PPD is a serious condition, it can be treated with medication and counseling.
  3. Postpartum psychosis is a very serious mental illness that can affect new mothers. This illness can happen quickly, often within the first three months after childbirth. Women can experience psychotic depression, in that the depression causes them to lose touch with reality, have auditory hallucinations (hearing things that aren't actually happening, like a person talking), and delusions (interpreting things differently from what they are in reality). Visual hallucinations (seeing things that aren't there) are less common. Other symptoms include insomnia (not being able to sleep), feeling agitated (unsettled) and angry, strange feelings and behaviors, as well as less commonly having suicidal or homicidal thoughts. Women who have postpartum psychosis need treatment right away and almost always need medication. Sometimes women are put into the hospital because they are at risk for hurting themselves or someone else, including their baby.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2016

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