By: Allie and Ansie

The birth of a new baby is often one of the happiest moments in a woman's life. For some women, however, this joyous occasion can plunge them into despair as they experience the effects of postpartum depression, an illness of personal and clinical complexity.

There are four degrees of postpartum depression, which differ by severity of the symptoms and length of duration: “postpartum blues,” postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety/panic disorder, and postpartum psychosis.

The mildest form is known as “postpartum blues” or “baby blues.” It usually surfaces around the third day after birth and can last approximately 7-10 days. “Postpartum blues” is a common condition affecting 50 to 80% of women. It is most commonly triggered by a sudden decrease in the hormones estrogen and progesterone that occurs approximately 3 days after giving birth. Symptoms include
Lack of appetite
Food cravings
The good news is that this condition is transitory and generally goes away on its own.

Statistics vary, but postpartum depression may affect 3 to 28% of new mothers and may occur any time after delivery. Some symptoms include
Feelings of guilt
Feelings of despair and/or worthlessness

Less common are postpartum anxiety/panic disorder and very rarely, postpartum psychosis (occurring in one in one thousand new mothers).

Postpartum depression points to a multi-dimensional explanation. Contributing factors may include
Obstetrical variables (e.g., traumatic birth, pre-term babies)

A wide range of prevention and treatment options are available. Some approaches are
Support groups
Family support system

A number of websites offer information and support for women and their families who are experiencing the debilitating effects of a postpartum illness. Here are a few websites you may wish to check out.

This is the website for Postpartum Support International: A Social Support Network, Information Center and Research Guide Concerning Postpartum Mood Disorders and Depression. This website offers the Postpartum Support International Directory that lists valuable services and information for new parents, PSI members (Postpartum Support International), and for researchers.

Postpartum Depression One Woman's Journey
This is an account of one woman's personal experience with postpartum depression (a moving and heart-wrenching story).

Home of the Pacific Post Partum Support Society
The Pacific Post Partum Support Society is based in Vancouver, Canada and offers an overview of postpartum depression, stories of women's personal experiences with postpartum depression, information for fathers, a self-help guide and some support options.

Coping with Post-partum Depression

This site highlights information from Shouldn't I be Happy? Emotional Problems of Pregnant and Postpartum Women, written by Shaila Misri, M.D. Other topics on this site include depression in pregnancy, pregnancy loss, PMS, and menopause.

The above material is considered the combined property of Ansie and Allie.
If you wish to use this article, in part or whole, please contact them at for their permission.