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Over the last several years, postpartum mood disorders have gained more attention from the media and the public. You might even be wondering if you or someone you know is suffering from a postpartum mood disorder. It is important to understand that this is a broad term for the wide range and variety of emotions a woman can experience after having a baby. Postpartum mood disorders are divided into three subcategories that include “baby blues”, postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis. These subgroups have a variety of symptoms and vary in severity and intensity.


What are the “Baby Blues”?

The “baby blues” are the least severe form of postpartum depression. Approximately 50% to 75% of all new mothers will experience some negative feelings after giving birth. Normally these feelings occur suddenly four to five days after the birth of the baby. The most common symptoms include:

  • Crying for no apparent reason
  • Impatience
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

While these symptoms are quite unpleasant, they typically resolve on their own and end as abruptly as they began.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Approximately 10% of new mothers will experience what is classified as postpartum depression (PPD). Symptoms may occur a few days after delivery or sometimes as late as a year later. Women who experience postpartum depression will have alternating good days and bad days. Symptoms can be mild or severe. A few of the symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Trouble sleeping and eating
  • Feelings of guilt

What is Postpartum Psychosis?

Postpartum psychosis (PPP) is the most severe form of postpartum depression, but fortunately it is the rarest form. It occurs in 1 out of every 1,000 pregnancies. The onset is very sudden and severe, normally 2 to 3 weeks after giving birth. Symptoms are characterized by a loss of touch with reality and can include:

  • Bizarre behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions

Postpartum psychosis is considered a medical emergency and should be treated immediately.