Frequently Asked Questions

What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum Depression (PPD) occurs in up to 10-15% of all births. It typically emerges over the first few months after childbirth but may occur at any point after delivery. Symptoms of PPD last for more than 2 weeks. Depression after childbirth is a serious illness and can have significant and lasting impact on the patient, infant, and family.

Who gets postpartum depression?
Any woman who has given birth is at risk for PPD. Roughly 1 in 8 women may have clinical symptoms of depression or anxiety after childbirth. A prior history of major depression or postpartum depression further increases risk.

What are common symptoms?

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression include:
  • Feeling sad, depressed, and/or crying a lot
  • Intense anxiety; rumination, obsessions
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or incompetence
  • Fatigue, irritability, sleep disturbance
  • Change in appetite
  • Poor concentration
  • Feeling inadequate to cope with new infant
  • Excessive worry about baby's health
  • Suicidal thoughts

What causes postpartum depression?
We do not yet know the specific cause of postpartum depression and that is why we are doing this study. Research to date shows that there are likely multiple contributing factors towards postpartum depression. These include your genes (genetic vulnerability), the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and childbirth, and other biologic and psychosocial factors.

Is there effective treatment?
Yes, there are multiple forms of effective treatment! This can include both medications and psychotherapy. If you are suffering with symptoms, you should make sure to get help.

What is postpartum psychosis?
A rare but severe form of postpartum psychiatric illness is Postpartum Psychosis. Postpartum Psychosis is a serious illness that can be life threatening. The psychotic symptoms include delusions (thoughts that are not based in reality), hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that aren't there) or disorganized thinking. Often mothers who develop postpartum psychosis are having a severe episode of a mood disorder, usually bipolar (manic-depression) disorder with psychotic features. It is essential for women to get evaluation and treatment immediately.

What if I need help now? If you are having serious symptoms or thinking about hurting yourself, please call 911 (US residents) or your local emergency number, go to your local hospital, or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org for more resources.