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What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression is depression that happens after you have a baby. About 1 in 9 postpartum people experience symptoms of postpartum depression. With this kind of depression, you may feel sad, hopeless, anxious, and/or disconnected from your baby for weeks or months. Postpartum depression lasts longer and is more intense than the “baby blues.”

How is postpartum depression different from the “baby blues?”

The “baby blues” means feeling worried, sad, or tired after giving birth. They generally start 2-3 days after giving birth. They’re very common and usually last a few days.

Postpartum depression lasts for weeks or months and tends to be more intense. It generally starts about 1-3 weeks after giving birth. It might prevent you from being able to care for yourself, your baby, and the rest of your family. Lots of people deal with postpartum depression — it’s a very common experience. Like all kinds of depression, postpartum depression is treatable.

What are the signs of postpartum depression?

Someone with postpartum depression may experience:

  • Sadness, anxiety, or anger that doesn’t go away
  • Feeling worthless, helpless, guilty, hopeless, or irritable
  • Feeling distant from your baby
  • Crying more than usual
  • Loss of energy
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Appetite changes (eating more or less than usual)
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Constant doubts about your ability to raise your baby
  • Thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby

How is postpartum depression treated?

The good news is that postpartum depression is treatable. Your doctor or nurse can help you manage your postpartum depression. Treatment may include counseling and/or medicines. If you’re breastfeeding, make sure to let your nurse or doctor know, since some medicines aren’t safe to use while breastfeeding.  

If you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression, talk with your nurse or doctor, and ask for support from family and friends. Planned Parenthood health centers don’t provide treatment for postpartum depression, but they may be able to help you find treatment and other support in your area. You can also find local support at SAMHSA.

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