Beginning three to four days after delivery and lasting for 10 days or so, many women experience “baby blues”. This is characterized by mood swings, lethargy, feelings of inadequacy, and anxiety. When severe or longer-lasting, it is considered a postpartum depression At greater risk are those with depression following a previous pregnancy (about 70% risk), adolescent mothers (30% risk) and women with a history of depression in the past not associated with pregnancy (30%). For most women, this depression is transient, resolving within six months. However, for some mothers a more lasting type of baby blues occurs. These women may have more severe depression that interferes with their ability to function.
Lack of sleep with caring for the new baby, medical complications of childbirth, and other pressures associated with a new baby can worsen the depression. Fathers can also suffer from baby blues. For them it is usually a much milder condition. It should be discussed with a doctor if it interferes with daily activity or lasts more than a few weeks. Most likely postpartum depression is triggered by changes in levels of progesterone and estrogen after delivery although the exact cause is not known.