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Postpartum Depression

According to the DSM-IV-TR, an episode of Major Depression is considered to have a postpartum onset if it occurs within four weeks of the delivery of a baby.  However, most clinicians would consider a Postpartum Depression to be one that starts anytime between 2-26 weeks after delivery [ref].

A Postpartum Depression is different from the postpartum blues, which starts very soon after delivery and lasts for a few days and not more than 2-3 weeks.

Symptoms of postpartum blues include: feeling depressed, anxious or irritable; moods that swing unpredictably between those states; crying excessively, easily, and often for no reason; trouble concentrating; feeling restless; difficulty sleeping.

The postpartum blues are not a reason for concern so long as the women does not meet full criteria for a Major Depressive Episode. They are thought to be due to the sudden change in the woman's hormone levels following delivery. They do not necessitate treatment as they resolve on their own within a short period of time.

If the mother experiences psychosis as a feature of a Postpartum Depression, then it is very likely that her underlying condition is in fact Bipolar I Disorder (see also Postpartum Psychosis).


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