What are the Most Common Postnatal Depression Symptoms?

Article Details
  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

Postpartum or postnatal depression symptoms are very similar to symptoms of depression that may occur at any time. This condition is marked by the fact that it typically occurs after the birth of a child, or after a miscarriage or abortion. It is linked to the decline in pregnancy hormones that occurs in the first few weeks after a pregnancy ends. Medical experts have now identified that about 10% of new fathers can suffer from postpartum depression, though onset, symptoms and cause may be slightly different.

In women, postnatal depression symptoms are marked by changes in mood, and while all women experience tearfulness and mood shifts to a degree after pregnancy, the situation is more serious with true depression. Mood shifts or irritation may be expressed to partners, other children, or family members and friends. Mothers with this condition may also feel a sense of hopelessness or despair, making it difficult to enjoy having a new child. Bonding with that child may be challenging and interactions with the baby, though moms with this condition may still provide good childcare, can be anxious. Some mothers do sink so far into despair they are hesitant to hold and touch their children.


Postnatal depression symptoms commonly include sleep disturbances. While all babies naturally disturb the sleep of new mothers, even when a baby is not waking up at unusual times, mothers may have difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. This can worsen the overall condition because poor sleep and depressive moods are linked. Postpartum depression can also affect the appetite in different ways.

If postnatal depression symptoms worsen, people can become so hopeless that they contemplate things like suicide. Though this isn’t always common, it needs immediate attention. It is not common for mothers with this condition to want to harm their babies, and when this symptom occurs, the condition has progressed to the a more serious condition, postpartum psychosis disorder. Both postnatal depression and postpartum psychosis disorder require medical treatment, and with treatment, frequently dramatically improve.

In men, the onset of postnatal depression symptoms usually occurs about three to six months after a child is born, and the condition isn’t due to declining pregnancy hormones. Some have suggested that men suffer a self-esteem hit because their partners are much more interested in a new baby, and many feel left out or excluded from the mother/child relationship. There may be other causes including the fairly regular sleep deprivation many parents undergo.

Symptoms are similar. Moodiness, a sense of hopelessness, and feelings of despair may be pervasive. Concerns about relational interaction with the child could occur. Sleep habits and appetite may suffer, and in severe cases, men may feel suicidal. Just as with women, this condition is one requiring treatment. Psychotherapy and drug therapy may both be useful in ending this form of depression.



Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?