What are the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression?

Updated: Oct 11, 2019
  • Author: Saju Joy, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Christine Isaacs, MD  more...
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Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression are clinically indistinguishable from major depression that occurs in women at other times. [45] Typically, the disorder develops insidiously over the first 3 postpartum months, [2] although postpartum depression may have a more acute onset.

Symptoms of major depression may include depressed mood, tearfulness, anhedonia, insomnia, fatigue, appetite disturbance, suicidal thoughts, and recurrent thoughts of death. [46] In the postpartum period, depression is characterized as intense sadness, anxiety, or despair. This interferes with the mother’s ability to function, causing risk of harm to the mother or infant. [2]

Anxiety is prominent, including worries or obsessions about the infant's health and well-being. [11] The mother may have ambivalent or negative feelings toward the infant. She may also have intrusive and unpleasant fears or thoughts about harming the infant. [47]

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