Exploring The Three Types Of Postpartum Mood Disorders: Baby Blues, Postpartum Depression, And Postpartum Psychosis

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Exploring The Three Types Of Postpartum Mood Disorders: Baby Blues, Postpartum Depression, And Postpartum Psychosis

June 11, 2023
Exploring The Three Types Of Postpartum Mood Disorders: Baby Blues, Postpartum Depression, And Postpartum Psychosis

Bringing a new life into the world can be an incredible and joyful experience, filled with love and contentment. However, it can also be a physically and emotionally challenging time for new mothers. While it’s natural for mothers to feel a range of emotions, including despair, anxiety, and fatigue, some of these feelings may signal a more serious issue. In this blog post, we will exploring the three types of postpartum mood disorders: baby blues, postpartum depression (PPD), and postpartum psychosis, which can have a significant impact on new mothers.

Baby Blues Exploring The Three Types Of Postpartum Mood Disorders

Baby blues, also known as postpartum blues, are a common experience for many new mothers. Up to 80% of women experience baby blues in the first few days or weeks after giving birth. Symptoms typically start within the first few days after delivery and can last for up to two weeks.

The symptoms of baby blues include:

  • Feelings of sadness or tearfulness
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Appetite changes
  • Fatigue

Baby blues are caused by hormonal changes that occur after giving birth. The sudden drop in estrogen and progesterone levels can cause mood swings and other symptoms. Other factors that can contribute to baby blues include lack of sleep, physical discomfort after childbirth, and the stress of adjusting to a new baby.

While baby blues can be difficult to deal with, they usually go away on their own within a few days or weeks. There are also things that new mothers can do to help alleviate their symptoms, such as getting plenty of rest, eating well, and asking for help from family and friends.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a more serious condition that affects women after childbirth occurring in the first few weeks or months following delivery. PPD can cause a range of symptoms that can interfere with a mother’s ability to care for herself and her child. These symptoms can vary in severity and can last for several months or longer if left untreated.

PPD is different from the “baby blues,” as it is a more severe and persistent form of depression that can significantly affect a mother’s ability to function. PPD affects around 10-20% of new mothers and can last for months or even years if left untreated.

Symptoms and Risk Factors of PPD

The symptoms of PPD are similar to those of baby blues but are more severe and longer-lasting. These symptoms include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or worthlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Sleep disturbances (either insomnia or excessive sleep)
  • Appetite changes
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

PPD is caused by a combination of hormonal changes, genetic factors, and environmental factors such as stress and lack of social support. While the exact causes of PPD are not fully understood, there are several risk factors that can increase a woman’s likelihood of developing the condition. These risk factors include:

  • stressful life events
  • financial, employment, or environmental stress
  • infertility or complicated childbirth
  • difficulty breastfeeding
  • loss of a loved one
  • burden of caring for a new-born
  • social isolation
  • adolescent or older mothers.

 It’s important to seek treatment for PPD as soon as possible, as it can have serious consequences for both the mother and her child. Treatment may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. 

Treatment and Recovery Plan

Postpartum depression is a serious mental health condition that requires professional help and support. Medication, psychotherapy, support groups, self-care, partner and family support, and time are all important components of a comprehensive treatment and recovery plan for postpartum depression. The following is a detailed treatment and recovery plan for postpartum depression:

Seek professional help

It is important to seek professional help if you suspect that you are suffering from postpartum depression. Your healthcare provider can refer you to a mental health specialist who can evaluate you and provide a diagnosis.


In some cases, medication may be necessary to help treat postpartum depression. Antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed medications for this condition. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of medication with your healthcare provider. It may take up to six weeks for antidepressants to reduce symptoms of depression. Because ECT is frequently successful within one week, it may be used to treat mothers with severe PPD, those who do not react to medicines, and those at high risk for suicide.


Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, can be very effective in treating postpartum depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) are two types of therapy that are particularly effective for this condition.

Support groups

Support groups can provide a valuable source of emotional support for women suffering from postpartum depression. These groups offer a safe and supportive environment where women can share their experiences, connect with others who are going through similar struggles, and learn coping strategies.


Self-care is important for all women, but it is particularly important for women suffering from postpartum depression. This may include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular exercise. Other self-care activities may include getting a massage, practicing yoga or meditation, or taking a relaxing bath.

Partner and family support

Partner and family support is also important for women suffering from postpartum depression. It is important for partners and family members to be supportive and understanding, and to help the new mother with household tasks and caring for the baby.


Finally, it is important to remember that postpartum depression takes time to heal. Recovery may be gradual, and it may take weeks or even months before you start to feel better. It is important to be patient and to continue to seek help and support as needed.


The consequences of untreated postpartum depression (PPD) can be severe, both for the mother and the child. The Mayo Clinic warns that mothers with PPD who don’t receive proper treatment, such as medication and therapy, are at high risk of developing chronic depression. Babies born to mothers with untreated PPD are also at risk of experiencing excessive crying, poor nutrition, and sleep problems, which can lead to developmental issues. In extreme cases, PPD left untreated has been linked to infanticide, suicide, and physical harm to babies.

Additionally, children born to mothers with PPD are more likely to experience a range of challenges, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, emotional and behavioral issues, and difficulties with language development. Therefore, it is crucial for new mothers experiencing symptoms of PPD to seek professional help as soon as possible to ensure both their own and their child’s well-being.

Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is a rare and severe mental health disorder that affects some women after childbirth. It has received a tremendous deal of public attention, even though it affects just one to two out of every 1,000 moms. Andrea Yates tragically killed her five children in a bathtub in 2001, while suffering from postpartum psychosis. This infamous tragedy exemplifies the severity of postpartum psychosis and the critical necessity for early identification and treatment. It is a psychiatric emergency that requires immediate medical attention. Postpartum psychosis usually begins within the first two weeks after giving birth but can develop up to 12 weeks after delivery.

Risk Factors and Symptoms for Postpartum Psychosis

Major risk factors may include: 

  • History of PPD
  • Postpartum Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Family history of these disorders.

Symptoms of postpartum psychosis can vary but may include:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Delusions and/or hallucinations
  • Thoughts of harming oneself or the baby
  • Insomnia or sleeping excessively
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Difficulty in communicating or connecting with others

Postpartum psychosis is considered a medical emergency, and if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. Treatment typically involves hospitalization and medication, and in some cases, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be recommended.

Postpartum psychosis is rare, affecting approximately 1 in 1000 women who give birth. However, it is a serious condition that can have severe consequences for both the mother and the baby. It is essential for healthcare providers and loved ones to be aware of the symptoms of postpartum psychosis and to seek medical attention immediately if they suspect it.


To sum up, although baby blues, postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis are all conditions that can occur after childbirth, they are unique and require different approaches to treatment. It is essential for new mothers, their partners, and healthcare providers to understand the differences between them and seek help if needed. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of PPD or psychosis, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for support. With appropriate treatment, new mothers can recover and cherish the precious moments of motherhood.

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