Postpartum Depression: FAQ

1. What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum Depression ( PPD) is depression in women who have recently had a baby. It can start shortly after the birth, a few weeks or a few months following the birth. If untreated, it can last for 6 months or more.

2. What are the symptoms of PPD?
The most common symptoms of PPD are:

  • Depressed/ sad mood most of the day, most days
  • Uncontrollable crying spells
  • A sense of hopelessness
  • Inability to experience joy or to enjoy previously enjoyable activities
  • Difficulty focusing, remembering or making decisions
  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • Sleep disturbances ( either being unable to have a good night sleep or over- sleeping
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Bodily aches and pains
  • Anxiety
  • Thoughts or plans to harm self or others

Other symptoms may be present. Not all symptoms are usually present but if a woman has at least 5 symptoms, which have lasted two weeks or more, she is likely having an episode of PPD.

3. Who is at risk for developing PPD?
PPD can affect anyone. It doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor, well- educated and less well- educated, colour, religion or culture. Certain women , however, are at a higher risk than others.

  • Women with a family history of mental health issues
  • Women who have had mental health issues in the past
  • Women who have experienced a traumatic or complicated birth
  • Women who are socially isolated or feel unsupported
  • Women who experience severe loss of sleep following the birth

4. What causes PPD?
Nobody has been able to identify a single cause but the current knowledge supports the idea that the cause lies in a combination of biological factors ( such as a sensitivity to hormonal fluctuation), social factors ( such as isolation or financial stresses) and psychological factors ( for example, perfectionism or challenges with flexibility).

5. Do women recover from PPD and if so, what helps?
Most women do recover from PPD and they recover faster when they have support and receive therapy. There are four types of therapy which have been found to be effective in treating PPD. They are: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Interpersonal Psychotherapy, Marital Therapy ( esp. When there are problems in the marriage) and, group therapy.

The most important thing is, that a woman who has PPD does not have to suffer alone. Help is out there and it can make a big difference!