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Understanding Postpartum Depression: Cause, Impact, Risk Factors & Treatment

postpartum depression symptoms

Postpartum depression is a silent struggle that affects countless new mothers worldwide. Amid the joy of welcoming a newborn, this insidious condition can cast a dark cloud over the postpartum period. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the nuances of postpartum depression, its symptoms, causes/reasons, and most importantly, strategies for coping, managing and seeking help. Join us in shedding light on this crucial issue and offering support to those who need it most.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Having a baby is life-changing, and parenthood can be exciting yet overwhelming. Feelings of worry and doubt are normal, especially for first-time parents. However, extreme sadness, loneliness, mood swings, and crying spells may indicate postpartum depression (PPD).

PPD can affect anyone after childbirth, including surrogates and adoptive parents, due to hormonal, physical, emotional, financial, and social changes. Remember, you’re not alone, it’s not your fault, and help is available through your healthcare provider to deal with and overcome PPD symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression, different from the “baby blues,” lasts weeks after childbirth, causing severe symptoms that hinder daily functioning. Symptoms vary and can emerge 1 to 3 weeks postpartum.

Symptoms include:

  • Feeling disconnected from your baby or thinking you don’t love them—these feelings are not your fault.
  • Frequent sadness.
  • Overwhelming emotions.
  • Thoughts of harm to the baby or yourself.
  • Lack of interest in your baby.
  • Low energy.
  • Guilt.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Altered eating habits.
  • Anxiety.
  • Physical discomfort.

Remember, postpartum depression isn’t your fault, and seeking help from a healthcare professional is crucial for recovery.

You Can Also Read: The Importance of Mental Health for Your Overall Health

What is the Difference Between Postpartum Depression and Baby Blues? 

Baby blues are common, mild emotional changes that occur within the first two weeks after childbirth, including mood swings and irritability. They often resolve on their own.

Postpartum depression (PPD), on the other hand, is a more severe and long-lasting condition that can develop within the first year postpartum. PPD symptoms are intense and include deep sadness, fatigue, loss of interest, and difficulties bonding with the baby.

PPD requires medical attention and treatment, such as therapy and medication. Recognizing the difference is crucial, as early intervention can help new mothers suffering from PPD regain their emotional well-being and ability to care for themselves and their babies.

What Are the Causes and Risk Factors of Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression’s cause is unclear, likely stemming from a mix of factors:

Physical factors:

  • Elevated pregnancy hormones drop suddenly after birth, potentially triggering depression.
  • Low thyroid hormone levels.
  • Sleep deprivation.
  • Underlying medical conditions.
  • Substance misuse.

Emotional factors:

  • Stressful experiences during pregnancy can increase the risk.
  • Such stressors may include a recent divorce, the death of a loved one, or financial strain.

What is the Impact of Postpartum Depression on Mothers and Families? 

Postpartum depression (PPD) has a profound impact on mothers and their families:

Impact on mothers:

  • Emotional distress: PPD causes persistent sadness, irritability, and feelings of inadequacy.
  • Physical symptoms: Fatigue, appetite and sleep changes, and physical discomfort can occur.
  • Reduced self-care: Basic self-care routines may be neglected.
  • Impaired functioning: Daily life and maternal duties become challenging.
  • Risk of self-harm or suicide: Severe cases may lead to harmful thoughts.

Impact on families:

  • Strained relationships: Partners and family members may feel frustrated or helpless.
  • Decreased parenting quality: Infants may lack necessary emotional support.
  • Financial stress: Missed work days can lead to financial strain.
  • Developmental risks: Children of mothers with untreated PPD may face developmental and behavioural issues.

Early recognition and professional help, including therapy and support groups, are crucial for improving well-being and mitigating these effects.

You Can Also Read: Tips to look after your mental health

What is the Long-term Impact of Postpartum Depression on Children?

Postpartum depression (PPD) impacts children in the following ways:

  • Attachment and bonding issues: PPD may hinder mothers from forming strong emotional bonds with their infants, affecting attachment and future relationships.
  • Cognitive and emotional development: PPD can impede consistent nurturing care, potentially causing delays in language, cognitive growth, and emotional regulation in children.
  • Behavioural problems: Children of mothers with PPD may face increased risks of behavioural issues, like aggression and conduct disorders, persisting into adolescence.
  • Mental health risks: PPD-exposed children have elevated chances of developing future mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.
  • Social challenges: PPD may limit mothers’ engagement in enriching activities, impacting children’s social skills.
  • Stress levels: Living with a depressed mother can lead to higher stress levels, impacting both physical and mental health.

The severity of these impacts depends on the mother’s access to treatment and support. 

Early intervention and PPD treatment are essential to minimise negative consequences for both mother and child, with support systems and professional help playing critical roles in reducing long-term effects.

How is Postpartum Depression Diagnosed?

Seek screening from a healthcare provider if, within the first year following childbirth, you have symptoms of postpartum depression that last longer than two weeks. They’ll assess your symptoms, including:

  • Depression
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Low energy
  • Irritability

Additionally, they’ll consider risk factors like:

  • Recent stressors
  • Depression history
  • Medication

They may also order a blood test for underlying conditions contributing to your depression.

What is the Treatment for Postpartum Depression?

If you have symptoms of postpartum depression, it’s crucial to seek help from a healthcare professional promptly. An outline of the main ideas is provided here:

Treatment options:

  • Medication and therapy, often combined, are effective.
  • Medications like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and atypical antidepressants may be prescribed.
  • Be aware of potential side effects.

Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy (oestrogen) may be used to address hormonal imbalances contributing to postpartum depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT, alongside medication, effectively reduces symptoms by altering thought patterns and enhancing problem-solving skills.

Natural remedies: Complementary practices like a balanced diet, gentle exercise, meditation, and nature exposure can support recovery.

Self-care: Vital for managing feelings of isolation; seek support from loved ones and consider support groups. Always prioritise professional guidance in treating postpartum depression.


Postpartum depression is a challenging and often overlooked condition that deserves our attention and support. The biological, physical and chemical factors that cause it are beyond your control. It is always advisable to seek medical help from an experienced psychiatrist. Timely care and help can ensure an appropriate diagnosis and treatment of your condition. 

At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients get holistic medical support which includes treatment in a compassionate environment. This patient-centric approach not only helps patients heal better but also ensures they are aware of the preventive measures as well. In case you need to consult a psychiatrist, reach out to us, or book a direct appointment at the CK Birla Hospital.


What Are the Early Signs of Postpartum Depression?

Early signs of postpartum depression may include sadness, irritability, sleep disturbances, appetite changes, loss of interest in activities, and difficulty bonding with the baby. Seeking help is crucial.

Can Postpartum Depression Occur After Any Pregnancy?

Yes, postpartum depression can occur after any pregnancy, including first pregnancies or subsequent ones. It is not limited to a specific pregnancy and can affect any new mother.

How Long Does Postpartum Depression Typically Last?

Postpartum depression can last for several months to a year or more if left untreated. Early intervention and appropriate treatment can help shorten its duration.

Are There Preventive Measures for Postpartum Depression?

Preventive measures for postpartum depression include a strong support system, stress reduction, healthy lifestyle choices, and seeking early treatment if at risk or experiencing symptoms.

How Can Partners Help With Postpartum Depression?

Partners can help by offering emotional support, assisting with baby care, encouraging self-care, and encouraging professional help if needed to alleviate postpartum depression in new mothers.

When Should Someone Seek Professional Help for Postpartum Depression?

To promote recovery, it is imperative that individuals with postpartum depression seek professional assistance if their symptoms worsen, last longer than two weeks, or interfere with their everyday activities.

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