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Postpartum Depression

Understanding Postnatal Depression: Signs, Screening, and Support

What is Postnatal Depression?

Postnatal depression is a serious condition that can affect new mothers after giving birth. It’s more than just feeling tired or stressed after having a baby; it’s a persistent sadness that can interfere with a mother’s ability to care for herself and her child.


If you notice a new mom always seems anxious around the baby or doesn’t seem to enjoy being with the baby, these could be important clues.

Signs to Look Out For

New moms with postnatal depression might show signs like:

  • Worrying a lot about the baby’s health
  • Doubting their ability to look after the baby
  • Feeling down for more than two weeks
  • Not being interested in what the baby is doing
  • Not feeling better even when people try to help or reassure them
  • Using alcohol, drugs, or tobacco
  • Skipping appointments for their own health after the baby is born
  • Often calling or visiting the baby’s doctor without a clear reason
Why Screening is Important

Doctors, like those who take care of women during and after pregnancy, should check all new moms for signs of depression. This is based on advice from experts in the United States and other countries. Screening is just a way to see if someone might have depression, and it’s really important because postnatal depression is common, often missed, and can be treated.

The most common way to screen is with a quick questionnaire called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. It doesn’t take long to fill out and doesn’t ask about things like sleep or appetite, which can change a lot for new moms anyway.

Sometimes, doctors might just ask a couple of simple questions about how a mom has been feeling. If her answers suggest she might be depressed, the doctor will talk with her more to figure out what’s going on.

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When to Screen

It’s a good idea for new moms to be screened at least once, and a good time for this is between four to eight weeks after the baby is born. Some experts suggest checking more than once during the first year after the baby is born.

The First Steps in Evaluation

The first step in checking for postnatal depression is similar to checking for depression at other times. It includes talking about the mom’s feelings and past health, a check-up, and sometimes lab tests. It’s especially important to find out if a mom has thoughts of hurting herself or the baby.

How is Postnatal Depression Diagnosed?

Doctors use the same rules to diagnose postnatal depression as they do for depression at other times. If a mom has been feeling down or has lost interest in things she usually likes for more than two weeks, and has other signs of depression, she might have postnatal depression.

What Else Could It Be?

Sometimes, the way a new mom feels can be due to normal changes after having a baby, or what’s called the “baby blues,” which go away on their own. But if those feelings don’t go away, it might be postnatal depression. It’s also possible for a new mom to have a type of depression called bipolar depression, which needs different care.

Treatment and Support

Treating postnatal depression is important and can really help. It might include talking to a therapist, taking medicine, or both. It’s also really important for the mom to get support from family, friends, and her doctors.


Postnatal depression is a serious condition that can be hard to spot but is treatable. Screening and proper care can make a big difference for new moms and their babies. If you’re a new mom or know someone who is, and you see signs of postnatal depression, reach out to a healthcare provider for help and support.

Resources for Help and Support

If you or someone you know is struggling with postnatal depression, you’re not alone, and there are resources available to provide support and assistance:


  • Postpartum Support International (PSI): This organization is dedicated to helping women suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including postnatal depression. You can find a directory of therapists, support groups, and other resources at

  • PSI Website: For more information about postnatal depression and to access a variety of helpful resources, visit Here, you can find guidance on how to get help, including links to support groups and educational materials.

  • PSI Helpline: If you need someone to talk to, PSI offers a helpline where you can speak with a trained volunteer who can provide support and information about local resources. You can reach the PSI Helpline at 1-800-944-4PPD (800-944-4773).

  • Hotline for New Parents: For immediate support, new parents can call the hotline at 833-TLC-MAMA (833-852-6262). This service is there to help you navigate the challenges of parenthood, including issues related to postnatal depression.

Remember, reaching out for help is a sign of strength, and these resources are here to support you and your family during this time

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