Is Postpartum Mood Disorder a form of depression? (+3 coping tips)

This article will explain if Postpartum Mood Disorder (PPMD) is a form of depression. It will show why it happens, what are the signs of it, and how women can cope.

Is Postpartum Mood Disorder a form of depression?

Yes, Postpartum Mood Disorder (PPMD) can turn into a form of depression. But it is important to keep in mind that there are many layers to the mood swings a woman can experience after birth, or even during her pregnancy.

Women can experience common Baby Blues after birth, but to some, it can become more serious, and the PPMD can become what is also known as Postpartum depression. And in even more intense cases, it can become Postpartum psychosis. But let’s learn how to differentiate each of them. 

What is Baby Blues? 

Baby blues is a common feeling, and it can happen to 80% of new mothers. It is a feeling of being overwhelmed, and sometimes even sad. You may feel like adjusting to this new life of having a baby at home can be extremely hard. You can feel worried, or even angry after birth.

But these feelings tend to go away after the first two weeks. They were most likely related to the hormonal changes childbirth puts you through, the lack of sleep that goes with it as well, and to the adjustment process that you will need to go through.

What is Postpartum mood disorder? 

But to some women, these feelings won’t go away after a couple of weeks they will be even more intense. When that happens, it is said that the woman is going through a postpartum mood disorder (PPMD), also known as Postpartum depression.

Although it is hard to admit, PPMD can happen to one in every 5 mothers, making it extremely important to discuss. 

Different from Baby Blues, PPMD will go on for longer, and its symptoms can be a lot more intense, making it even harder for the mother to bond with the baby. When a woman is experiencing PPMD, she will most likely feel the common symptoms of depression, such as:

  • Sadness
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Change in eating pattern
  • Excessive crying
  • Intense fatigue
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of interest even in things they loved
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling guilty, and ashamed
  • Low self-esteem, feeling worthless
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Thoughts of self-harm
  • Thoughts of death and suicide

But not only that, but PPMD can also lead the woman to have trouble bonding with the baby. Isolating themselves from their family and friends, and fear they won’t be a good mother. 

In some cases, it can also make them have severe anxiety and panic attacks, and thoughts of harming the baby. Along with that, PPMD makes it harder for the woman to relax.

PPMD can happen as soon as the child is born, but also all through the first year of the baby. Aside from that, if not treated it can go on for months, and may even become more intense.

What is Postpartum psychosis?

Postpartum psychosis is extremely rare, and it usually develops after childbirth. When a woman has Postpartum psychosis they can start to show confusion and disorientation. Aside from that, they can develop obsessive thoughts about the baby.

Hallucinations and delusions can also happen, and sleep disturbances are common. Postpartum psychosis will lead to excessive energy, and even agitation in some way, along with paranoia thoughts, and ideas of harming the baby or themselves.

Because of that, it is important to be extremely careful with any sign of Postpartum psychosis and look for help immediately.

What are the causes of PPMD?

There are some reasons one may develop PPMD, it can be related to the hormonal changes women experience after childbirth since their levels of estrogen and progesterone will go down, in the same way as other hormones that are produced in your Thyroid gland. Those can often make you feel more tired and even depressed.

Aside from that, it seems that PPMD can be related to the difficulties of being a new mother. The lack of sleep and the overwhelming feeling that can come with motherhood can take a toll on your emotional well-being. 

Aside from that, in that period, you can begin to feel you are less attractive and have trouble with your identity since now you are not just a woman, you are a mother. Sometimes it can feel like you lost control of your life, and that can lead to PPMD.

Some matters can make it easier to understand if you develop PPMD. The first one is if you have a history of depression or bipolar disorder. That is because when you have already gone through those dealing with motherhood can trigger something in you.

A history of postpartum depression in a previous pregnancy is also something to make you keep an eye on your mental health once you get pregnant again. In the same way as having a family history of PPMD. 

Another matter to take into consideration is if you have gone through traumatic experiences throughout your pregnancy, for example, pregnancy complications, or the loss of your job.

Mothers of babies that have health problems can also develop PPMD easier, the same way as mothers of twins or triplets, or mothers that are having trouble breastfeeding. 

Relationship problems can also lead to a higher risk of developing PPMD. If you are having trouble with your partner, have a weak support system, have financial problems, or are going through unplanned pregnancy is a risk factor for PPMD.

If you feel you may be going through PPMD, there are some ways you can cope.

How can I cope with PPMD? 

If you think you may be going to PPMD, the first thing you should do is look for help. This will help if your symptoms get worse, and start to impair caring for your baby, or even lead to thoughts of harming them or yourself.

Some women may prefer to go only to therapy, talk to someone about what they have been feeling, and learn how to navigate motherhood more positively. But other women may also need medication as a way to cope with PPMD.

Aside from that, there are also some things you can do in your day-to-day life. One of them is that you should try to follow some sort of routine. Although that may be hard with a baby, try to keep some sense of order. Try to rest whenever the baby is sleeping, and ask for help from people around you.

You shouldn’t try to do everything on your own. Try defining one or two chores you will do each day. You won’t be able to do everything you did before, the baby will take a lot of your time and energy.

Try to care for yourself, and make a point of having some time to do things you enjoy. You should also talk to people about how you feel. It can be friends, family, your partner, or even your therapist, but it is important to not leave things bottled up. 

Whenever you feel like a failure, look around and see all you are doing. Remember that it is a lot, and no one is trained to be a mother, you are discovering this whole new world as you go through it. 

Aside from that, try to have positive interactions with your baby, play with them, and enjoy the good moments as much as you can.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Is PPMD a form of depression? 

How can I prevent PPMD?

Although it may be impossible to say if you will develop PPMD, there are some ways you can discover it as soon as it appears, so you can treat it right away. Especially if you have a history of depression, you should let your doctor know about it so they can screen you for depressive symptoms even during your pregnancy.

This way, if any sign of even a mild depression is discovered, they can give you the proper treatment. And once the baby is born, being aware of your history, your doctor will most likely suggest you to do a postpartum checkup soon, to keep track of any signs of depression. The sooner it is detected, and you start treatment, the better.

Can I get better from PPMD? 

Yes, with proper treatment you will get better from PPMD. Keep in mind that this will not affect your ability to be a mother, and once you are healthy, you will be able to live a happy and fulfilling life with your child.

Can fathers get PPMD? 

Yes, fathers, the same way as mothers can develop PPMD. It can happen easier to fathers that have a history of depression, that are having relationship problems or are worried about the child’s upbringing, or the financial situation.

They can feel overwhelmed, sad, and fatigued. Along with that, they can become anxious and notice a change in their sleeping and eating patterns. It can affect the parents’ relationship, and the baby in the same way as PPMD on the mother. And to treat it is recommended, the same way as with the mother, professional support.

Can having PPMD impact my baby? 

Yes, unfortunately having a mom or a dad going through PPMD can have an impact on the child. Those children can have emotional or behavioral problems. They can have eating or sleeping difficulties, and delays in their language development. Aside from that, they can experience excessive crying.

How can I help a friend that I think is going through PPMD?

Sometimes it can be hard for the person that is depressed to recognize something is going on. That can happen because they don’t know what are the symptoms and signs to look for, or because they are so deep in their suffering that it makes it harder to understand what is going on.

If someone close to you seems to be going through PPMD, try to talk to them about what you have observed, and try to help them look for treatment. Although it may be hard to have this talk, you mustn’t wait for their condition to improve, because it most likely won’t without treatment.


This article focused on understanding what PPMD is. It showed why it happens, and what are the main signs someone is going through it, and how to cope.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.


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