PPD is not the same as the “baby blues.”
As many as 80 percent of new mothers have relatively mild, temporary psychological symptoms known as the “baby blues.” The symptoms usually begin in the first few days after childbirth and may last from just a few hours to one or two weeks. Common symptoms include mood swings, irritability, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and sadness. Women with the baby blues generally do not require medical treatment but can benefit from reassurance and referral to education and support resources.
PPD is a serious psychological condition.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) defines postpartum depression, also called perinatal depression, as a major or minor depressive episode that begins during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth. ACOG estimates that about one woman in seven (about 14 percent) experiences PPD, but certain populations may have higher rates of PPD. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP, reaffirmed, 2014) has noted:
“The incidence of perinatal depression varies with the population surveyed, but estimated rates for depression among pregnant and postpartum women have ranged from 5 percent to 25 percent. Studies of low-income mothers and pregnant and parenting teenagers have reported rates of depressive symptoms at 40 percent to 60 percent.”
PPD affects mothers and infants.
PPD, the most common form of postpartum mood disturbance, affects a woman’s ability to care for herself and her infant.
ACOG, AAP, and other medical organizations endorse routine screening for postpartum depression. AAP recommends that the infant’s health-care provider screen the mother for PPD.
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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) does not distinguish postpartum depression as a separate disorder but includes “with peripartum onset” as a specifier for an episode of depression that begins during pregnancy or in the first four weeks after delivery. About half of women with PPD experience the onset of depressive symptoms during pregnancy.