Recognising Postpartum Depression | Gleneagles Hospitals
First slide
Preventive Care
Women’s Health

Recognising Postpartum Depression

01 March 2024 · 4 mins read


Find out how to recognise symptoms of postpartum depression and when to reach out for medical help.

If you experience symptoms beyond the typical postpartum blues or "baby blues," such as persistent sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, or difficulty coping for longer than two weeks, it is crucial to inform your doctor, as you may have postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is a serious mental health condition that impacts both your emotional well-being and physical health.

You may experience a sense of detachment from your baby, feeling as though you are not the child's mother, and struggling to develop love or care for the infant. The severity of these emotions can range from mild to severe.

Postpartum anxiety

Many symptoms of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, such as poor sleep, difficulty relaxing, and irritability, overlap with each other.

Anxiety symptoms are commonly experienced by mothers with postpartum depression, although not every mother with anxiety is depressed. It could also intensify in response to stress factors, such as concerns about the baby's health, financial challenges, or the adjustments required in your relationships.

If you have experienced pregnancy loss, such as miscarriage or stillbirth, your likelihood of developing postpartum anxiety is also heightened. Those with a history of anxiety before or during pregnancy may find that symptoms of postpartum anxiety persist after childbirth.

Postpartum psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is a severe form of mental illness that requires immediate medical attention. It is a rare condition, affecting only 1 in 1000 women after childbirth.

Symptoms of postpartum psychosis include agitation, confusion, mania, delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and low mood. Prompt medical attention is crucial as the risk of suicide and harm to the baby is increased. Treatment typically involves hospitalisation, psychotherapy, and medication.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

You may have postpartum depression if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness and low mood.
  • Loss of enjoyment and disinterest in the world.
  • Lack of energy and constant tiredness.
  • Sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness.
  • Difficulty caring for yourself and your baby.
  • Withdrawing from social contact.
  • Problems with concentration and decision-making.
  • Disturbing thoughts, such as thoughts of harming your baby.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Hopelessness or self-blame.

Risk Factors for Postpartum Depression

The exact cause of postpartum depression remains unclear. However, certain factors may increase the likelihood of developing postpartum depression, such as:

  • A history of mental health problems, specifically depression, in earlier stages of one's life.
  • A history of mental health problems during pregnancy.
  • Limited social support.
  • Marital or relationship conflicts.
  • Recent stressful life events, such as death in the family.
  • Physical or psychological trauma, such as domestic violence.

Diagnosis of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is typically diagnosed through a combination of clinical assessments, discussions with the individual, and consideration of specific diagnostic criteria.

To assess if you have postpartum depression, your doctor may conduct a depression screening or ask you questions about your feelings and your baby. Openness and honesty with your doctor will provide a more accurate understanding of your emotions and thoughts.

Treatment for Postpartum Depression


Talking about your worries with a psychiatrist, psychologist or mental health professional may help. Through therapy, you can learn to better manage your feelings, solve problems, set realistic goals, and respond positively to situations.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy or supportive counselling can be effective in treating postpartum depression. Therapy provides a safe space to explore and address the emotional and psychological challenges associated with postpartum depression.


In some cases, your doctor may recommend an antidepressant. Antidepressants can be effective in alleviating depression symptoms, and some are suitable for use during breastfeeding. However, it may take several weeks for antidepressants to begin showing their therapeutic effects.

Coping with Postpartum Depression

New mothers might experience feelings of embarrassment, shame, or guilt about being depressed at a time when they are expected to be joyful. The fear of being perceived as inadequate mothers can also contribute to their reluctance to share their struggles.

It is important to recognise that any woman, regardless of her background, can face depression during pregnancy or postpartum, and experiencing such feelings does not make someone a "bad mom".

It is important to remember that it is normal to feel overwhelmed, and you do not have to face postpartum depression alone. Here are some coping strategies you can try:

  • Find someone to talk to, such as a therapist, friend, family member, or support group member willing to listen and offer support.
  • Join a support group for new parents to connect with others who may be going through similar experiences.
  • Try to maintain a healthy diet and find time for regular exercise, as these can positively impact your mental well-being.
  • Prioritise rest and make sure to get enough sleep.
  • Reach out to friends and socialise by going out with them or talking on the phone.
  • Take time for self-care and engage in activities you enjoy.
  • Consider seeking help with household chores and errands to reduce stress and responsibilities.

Make an Appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals

It is crucial to understand that help is available, and reaching out for support is a sign of strength. Consulting with a doctor can help in determining whether the symptoms are related to depression or another underlying issue, and they can provide guidance on appropriate interventions and support.

If you suspect that you are at risk of postpartum depression, get in touch with us to find out more about our Obstetrics & Gynaecology Services at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital.

Suggested Articles