Robert Kennedy, Kelley Suttenfield

In This Article

What Is Postpartum Depression?

For most people the birth of a baby is a special time of joy and excitement, but it can also be a time when women are susceptible to a clinical depression. This presents a whole new set of challenges that a new mother has to contend with in addition to caring for her newborn and herself. A depression that occurs after the birth of a baby is called a "postpartum" depression (PPD).

Moline and colleagues[1] describe 2 main kinds of PPD: (1) postpartum or maternity "blues," a mild mood problem of short duration and (2) postpartum major depression, a severe and potentially life-threatening illness. Nonacs[2] adds a third category to postpartum disorders -- postpartum psychosis. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSMIV-TR) delineates "postpartum" as a "modifier" or addition to other diagnoses. For example, a postpartum diagnosis could be described as major depression with postpartum onset, or bipolar I disorder with postpartum onset, or brief psychotic disorder with postpartum onset. Postpartum "blues" is not an official diagnostic entity but it is commonly seen by practitioners.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.