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What is Postpartum Depression?

Many women have the baby blues after childbirth. If you have the baby blues, you may have mood swings, feel sad, anxious or overwhelmed, have crying spells, lose your appetite, or have trouble sleeping. The baby blues most often go away within a few days or a week. The symptoms are not severe and do not need treatment.

The symptoms of postpartum depression last longer and are more severe. You may also feel hopeless and worthless, and lose interest in the baby. You may have thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby. Very rarely, new mothers develop something even more serious. They may have hallucinations or try to hurt themselves or the baby. They need to get treatment right away, often in the hospital.

Postpartum depression can begin anytime within the first year after childbirth. The cause is not known. Hormonal and physical changes after birth and the stress of caring for a new baby may play a role. Women who have had depression are at higher risk.

If you think you have postpartum depression, tell your health care provider. Medicines, including antidepressants and talk therapy can help you get well.

Source: Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health