What is Postpartum Depression?

There is a spectrum to Postpartum Mood Disorders and they are as follows...

Postpartum Blues - are most likely caused by hormonal changes following birth.  The symptoms usually peak at 5 days and remit by 7 to 10 days.  Symptoms may include a lack of emotional stability, mood swings, irritability, fatigue, tearfulness, generalized anxiety, sleep and appetite disturbance, confusion, mild manic symptoms and elation.  The "baby blues" are temporary, mild, time-limited and do not require treatment other than support and reassurance because they reduce on their own without medical intervention.1

Postpartum depression (PPD) women with this condition suffer despondency, tearfulness, and feelings of inadequacy, guilt, anxiety, anger, irritability and fatigue. Physical symptoms include headaches, numbness, chest pain and hyperventilation.  1 in 4 women are affected by PPD and when left untreated, the effects can often lead to neglect of the child, suicide or infanticide.


Post-traumatic stress disorder which can occur due to a traumatic labour or due to a high risk pregnancy.

Postpartum Anxiety and/or Panic Disorder - though it is not very well known or commonly spoken of, postpartum anxiety and/or panic disorder affects between 4% and 6% of women in the postpartum period. Women may suffer from either of these disorders alone, together, or in conjunction with postpartum depression.2   Visit pregnancy-info.net for more information.

Postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder which involves the mother having intrusive thoughts of harming the child or a fear of sickness or germs and occurs to 2-3 percent of women.


Postpartum psychosis (PPP) this occurs in 1 and 1000 births and involves the mother having delusional thoughts, sleeplessness, or hearing auditory voices, believing in a power outside them commanding them to kill, or harm the child.3

Here is also an interview with our friend, Teresa Twomey, that succinctly defines both PPD and PPP. 

We are also fortunate to receive Dr. Angela Bowen's (University of Saskatchewan) valuable  powerpoint presentation on Maternal Mental Health for all your information!

Our speaking engagement HANDOUT!


 1 Henshaw, C. (2003).  Mood disturbance in the early pueperium: A review.  Archives of Women's Mental Health, 6(Suppl 2), 533-52.

2 http://www.pregnancy-info.net/postpartum_anxiety_and_panic.html

3 "Conquering Postpartum Depression: A proven plan for recovery," Ronald Rosenburg, M.D. Deborah Greening, Ph.D. James Windell, M.A., 2003