Having a baby in your life can lead to a trigger to a lot of strong and overwhelming emotions ranging from excitement, joy and even fear and anxiety. However, some of the results can be lead to unexpected outcomes like depression.

Most of the times, the onset of depression after childbirth can be mistaken as “baby blues” that lead to things like mood swings, troubled sleeping pattern, crying spells, and anxiety. The baby blues can appear after the first few days of birth, and can continue for about two weeks.

Mood swings resulting from “baby blues” can often be addressed by a change in the diet as stated by KnowledgeMatik.

Nevertheless, “baby blues” can also be the early stages of something even more severe like that of postpartum depression.


The first indication of postpartum depression is the intensity of the signs which seem to be baby blues. The signs and symptoms are not only intense, but also persist for a longer period of time, to the extent where they a hindrance to your ability of caring for your baby and performing other tasks. Symptoms of postpartum can also develop during pregnancy and even after a year of child birth.

Some of the common symptoms include

• Depressed mood and/or severity of mood swings
• Uncontrollable bouts of crying
• Inability to bond with the baby
• Withdrawal from friends and family
• Loss of appetite or excessive consumption of food
• Insomnia i.e. lack of sleep, or sleeping for longer hours
• Fatigue that overwhelms, lack of energy in general
• Losing interest in things that you previously used to enjoy
• Shame, guilt and fear regarding your failure to be a good mother
• Unable to think with clarity, trouble in concentrating

• Poor decision making skills
• Being restless
• Experiencing severe anxiety and panic attacks
• Self-harming thoughts
• Thoughts of harming the baby
• Recurring thoughts of death and/suicide


Postpartum depression does not have any single cause. However, the drastic changes in the body as well as the emotions can play a crucial role.

Physical changes after childbirth are immense and include an overnight drop of estrogen and progesterone that can lead to postpartum depression. The drop in the secretion by the thyroid gland can also lead to the mother feeling tired and depressed.

Emotional issues can be caused by constant lack of sleep, and that might lead to inability to handle minor issues. The mother can also struggle with a sense of identity, and a feeling of lack of control over life itself.

All these issues can cumulatively contribute to the development of postpartum depression.


It is possible for any new mother to experience postpartum depression. It is not necessary that postpartum depression will develop with the first born child. But there are a few risk factors that increase the chances of the onset of postpartum depression:

• If an expectant mother has a history of suffering with depression, during pregnancy or at any point in life
• If you have bipolar disorder
• If you had postpartum depression with you last pregnancy
• If your family has a history of depression or any kind of mood disorders
• If you have experienced any kind of stressful event right before conceiving such as an illness or trauma from any loss of life of near and dear ones
• If your baby has any health issues or has special needs
• In case you face difficulty in breast-feeding
• A strain in the relationship with your spouse or significant other
• Lack of support system
• Financial strains
• Unwanted or unplanned pregnancy

In cases of untreated postpartum depression, it can interfere with the bonding between the mother and the child, and lead to family problems.

For mothers, untreated postpartum depression can lead to chronic depressive disorder. Postpartum depression also increases the chance of future episodes of major depression.

For fathers, postpartum depression can also lead to a ripple effect and hence emotional strain to a new baby. Depression in a new mother can also increase the risk of development of depression in the father.

Children of mothers who have not been treated with postpartum depression are more likely to develop emotional as well as behavioral issues.

The most important step that can be taken by a woman with history of depression in order to prevent postpartum depression is to plan your pregnancy. Even a consultation with your doctor soon after being sure of your pregnancy is also a good choice.

In such cases, your doctor can conduct a screening for any signs as well as symptoms of depression with the help of questionnaire as well as after delivery. Any mild depressive bouts can be addressed with the help of support groups, counselling, and therapy sessions. In much more serious cases, your doctor might prescribe antidepressants.

The time after birth will follow with a thorough checkup for postpartum. The earlier the detection, the easier the treatment.

Postpartum depression is however not limited to mothers, new fathers can also experience postpartum depression. Sadness, fatigue, being overwhelmed, anxiety etc. are all symptoms of an onset of postpartum depression. In such cases, reach out to your health care providers for professional help.

Author's Bio: 

Mark Tyler is a traditionally trained pharmaceutical expert with board certification in Integrative medicine. Having spent his formative years working around the globe in some of the largest medical centres, Tyler has also been on the forefront of public speaking wherein he has been invited to speak on the reach of medicine and the growth of pharmaceutical business in developed countries.