Postpartum Depression Signs and Symptoms

Signs of postpartum depression may first appear like normal mood changes after childbirth, but symptoms of postpartum depression can be seriously debilitating.

Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression should not be easily dismissed as the baby blues. Postpartum depression is far more than just the "baby blues." Mood alterations naturally occur after childbirth but these are mild, do not prevent a mother from caring for her baby and last less than two weeks. But postpartum depression is a type of major depressive disorder and symptoms of postpartum depression last longer than two weeks.

What are the Initial Signs of Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression signs may start out looking mild but then spiral into symptoms that negatively impact a woman's ability to handle day-to-day activities. Initial signs of postpartum depression generally include:

  • mood swings
  • anxiety
  • sadness
  • irritability
  • crying
  • decreased concentration
  • trouble sleeping

However, for most women, these signs do not reach the level of postpartum depression and will fade after a few days. (If you're wondering "Do I have postpartum depression?" complete the postpartum depression scale)

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

About 10% - 15% of women go on to show true symptoms of postpartum depression. These symptoms are identical to those seen in standard major depressive disorder. Symptoms of postpartum depression must be present for longer than two weeks and negatively impact a mother's ability to function. Often the postpartum depression signs will build over the three months after delivery, although can be seen up to one year later.1 The signs and symptoms of postpartum depression include the amplification of the above signs as well as:2

  • More intense mood swings, including anger
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of interest and pleasure in most things including sex
  • Feelings of shame, inadequacy, guilt
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby
  • Thoughts of death, dying or suicide

Postpartum depression must be treated medically as it can impact the care of the baby. Symptoms of postpartum depression can last more than a year if left untreated and may even spiral into a very severe depression known as postpartum psychosis and/or postpartum anxiety.

article references

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2022, January 3). Postpartum Depression Signs and Symptoms, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: January 9, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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