Beyond Baby Blues: 9 Warning Signs of Postpartum Depression

A complete guide on how to spot the signs of postpartum depression (PPD) and what to do about them. 

As per research by the Journal of the American Medical Association, around 1 in 7 women deal with postpartum depression. More new mothers die from suicide and overdose than due to any other reasons. 

So, if you have been feeling depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed after giving birth, you are not alone. As per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 14-23% of women have depressive symptoms during their pregnancy, while 5-25 percent deal with the condition postpartum. Not only that, but an astounding 41% of women who have struggled with postpartum depression will deal with the condition again in their future pregnancies. And that’s just the data from women who have reached out for professional help.

Even though the maternal mental health crisis is huge, only 6% of women dealing with it seek help. 

A misunderstanding or lack of awareness about what the signs of postpartum depression actually look like might be the heart of the problem. It’s not uncommon for young mothers to feel ‘baby blues.’ You are suddenly responsible for the well-being of another human being. Your moods shift frequently, and you’re constantly mentally and physically exhausted. Jitters, anxiety, and fatigue are common for mothers as they’re so invested in taking care of this brand-new human without any instruction manuals. 

But how do you understand that something more is going on? 

How do mothers or their family members understand that their mood swings as exhaustion are a result of baby blues or postpartum depression?

Well, we have got you covered. 

In this blog post, we will dive deeper into the signs of postpartum depression and what the condition actually looks like. We will look at the more subtle warning signs of postpartum depression that differentiate it from baby blues and help mothers effectively seek timely help and treatment. 

But before we get started, here’s something important. 

Mental health is diverse and complex. They exist on a spectrum, and every individual has their own experiences. Therefore, don’t start diagnosing yourself with the knowledge you get by reading a few articles on the Internet (though we are incredibly grateful to you for stopping by to enhance your understanding of an important topic). If you find this article helpful or resonate with the symptoms explained in it, consider this as the beginning of your journey of getting the right help. 

That’s it. Let’s dive in!

Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression

signs of PPD

1. Your ‘baby blues’ keep getting worse. 

As per the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), around 80% of women experience baby blues. This term is used to characterize the fatigue, stress, and exhaustion women generally face after having a baby. Having baby blues is completely normal. They are caused by hormonal changes within the body during and post-pregnancy.

However, the most significant difference between baby blues and PPD symptoms is that blues are generally a passing phenomenon. When your hormones stabilize in a few weeks, baby blues subside. In fact, most people who have baby blues don’t end up developing PPD.

So, if it’s been over 2-3 weeks and you still feel completely out of control and your emotions are negatively affecting your overall quality of life, they might be signs of PPD.

2. You feel a loss of interest in activities that you love. 

Having a baby is a LOT!

As a mother, this means your whole routine changes. You find less time for yourself and even less for the activities that you love. 

However, not having the time to enjoy is different. But, if you find yourself losing all interest in activities that you previously loved, it might be one of the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. The American Psychology Association (APA) explains that mothers with PPD often lose interest in their hobbies and withdraw from social circles

3. There are significant shifts in your appetite. 

This is one of the warning signs and symptoms of PPD that are extremely hard to spot. Your hormones are unstable right after giving birth. This severely affects your appetite. You might notice that you haven’t felt hungry the whole time, and it’s almost nighttime now. Or you might find yourself binge-eating to soothe your discomfort. 

If such patterns persist for a long time, they are one of the warning signs of postpartum depression. 

4. You are constantly irritable. 

Motherhood is filled with days of constant fatigue, little sleep, and a lot of new responsibilities. And sometimes, the lack of real support and care from those around you might make you feel irritable and angry. 

However, if you find yourself getting short-tempered or breaking into a fit of anger without any reason, it might be one of the early signs of postpartum depression. 

5. You can’t fall asleep. 

One of the most common things that new mothers expect is a lack of sleep. However, for vulnerable mothers, a persistent lack of sleep can be one of the signs of depression after giving birth. 

Research by the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing revealed that there’s a strong connection between sleep deprivation and postpartum depression. In fact, one of the lesser-known symptoms of postpartum depression is insomnia. Cycling between disrupted sleep and insomnia can have debilitating consequences for the mental and physical health of mothers. 

6. You have physical symptoms.  

The signs of postpartum depression aren’t just in the head. Sometimes, the early signs of PPD are visible in the form of physical symptoms. These physical symptoms of postpartum depression include:

7. You feel a loss of interest in your baby. 

As mothers, you deserve the time off. However, if you don’t spend time bonding with your baby or caring for them, it’s time to look deeper. 

Anytime the signs of depression after pregnancy make you feel like you can’t function as a mother or just a regular person in your life, it’s necessary to ask for help. This includes the following:

8. Your mind is filled with obsessive thoughts. 

Even mothers without signs of postpartum depression can have severely intrusive thoughts about harming their baby. This is because your brain is hypervigilant and protective for your baby. However, if these thoughts continue to stay stuck in your head all the time and restrict you from taking regular actions, they can be signs of warning signs of PPD. 

So, if you are constantly paranoid and on edge, it means your symptoms are way past the line and are likely to be signs of postpartum depression or anxiety. 

9. You have trouble making decisions. 

Being a mother means making a lot of decisions, especially concerning your child. This added responsibility can feel like a LOT for someone dealing with postpartum depression and is, therefore, one of the early signs of PPD. 

So, if the smallest decisions put you in an analysis-paralysis mode, PPD will likely play a role in it. 

That said, it can get difficult to understand whether your inaction is a sign of PPD or a regular instance of coping with a huge life change. During such times, the people around you can give you a better perspective. Therefore, consulting your friends and family can help. 

When To Worry?

If any of your postpartum depression symptoms last longer than two weeks or significantly hamper your regular life, they might be more than just baby blues. Therefore, it’s essential that you seek timely professional help. If you fear that you might hurt yourself or your baby, call 911 or seek immediate medical care. 

If you can’t reach someone but don’t have an emergency, call warmline at 800-944-4773 or text 503-894-9453. Warmline is a service started by Postpartum Support International, where you can leave a message regarding your issue, and a trained volunteer will get back to you in some time. If you need to talk to someone right away, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or send a text to the National Crisis Text Line at 741741.


Postpartum depression is one of the most debilitating disorders associated with maternal mental health. Yet, less than a tenth of women dealing with the condition actively seek professional help and support. This has a lot to do with a lack of awareness of the signs of postpartum depression. We hope this blog post will help you gain a better understanding of what PPD is and how it affects people. 

If reading this blog post has made you feel like you have PPD, do not panic. There is adequate help available for you. Consult your ob-gyn or therapist for further help and support. 

Additionally, professional mental health therapy is not available from the comfort of your home with the advent of online therapy platforms. To learn more about the best online therapy platforms, click here. To continue learning about maternal mental health, subscribe to Your Mental Health Pal.

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