Postpartum Depression

By | June 10, 2022

Unaffected people may be taken aback at first – postnatal depression or postpartum depression, a depression in young mothers? Is there such a thing and wasn’t the mother looking forward to her child? But it’s not that simple.

What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression (in technical jargon: postnatal depression ) affects an estimated 10 to 20 percent of mothers. Far more women, around 70 percent, suffer from a milder form. This form is colloquially called “baby blues” and has no disease value.¬†For definitions of liver failure, please visit

The correct postpartum depression, on the other hand, manifests itself in a lack of energy, feelings of guilt, irritability, a feeling of hopelessness and difficulty sleeping and concentrating. Sexual desire is restricted. Obsessive thoughts occur in half of all sufferers.

Thoughts of killing can also play a role in postpartum depression. Yet only 1 to 2 in 100,000 mothers with postpartum depression actually kill their own child. Postpartum depression can occur within the first two years after birth.


There are several factors that can favor the development of postpartum depression. These primarily include stressful life circumstances, such as a bad partnership, financial worries or traumatic experiences. Mental illnesses that were already present before birth can also promote the development of postpartum depression.

Social isolation is also a major risk factor. Working women who suddenly have to stay at home with the newborn are more likely to fall into postpartum depression. Perfectionism, fear of failure and a false image of mother (“the always happy mother”) are also suspected of triggering postpartum depression.

Since thyroid diseases can also be the cause, women should have their thyroid checked after giving birth. Hormone fluctuations after childbirth favor postpartum depression.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Symptoms of postpartum depression can develop immediately after birth, but can also begin weeks after delivery. Many mothers suffer from a mental low around the third day after giving birth. They are tearful, feel stressed and overwhelmed.

This can be explained by the hormonal changes around the time breast milk comes in and the drop in other hormones when the pregnancy ends. As a rule, however, this low is overcome after a few days. A longer-lasting postpartum depression is expressed above all by the fact that affected women appear constantly depressed, unhappy and dissatisfied.

Some also express this clearly and speak of being overwhelmed, a feeling of alienation and, in individual cases, of the feeling of not being able to love the child. However, many new mothers cannot or do not want to express their feelings so clearly. They fear being ridiculed and misunderstood by those around them and tend to suffer in silence.

This can in turn increase the symptoms of postpartum depression. Affected people are also often conspicuous because they believe that they are not up to everyday life with the child or that they actually can no longer manage a regular daily rhythm. Caring for the child can be neglected, as can personal hygiene. In extreme cases, suicidal thoughts are described.

Diagnosis & History

In the case of postpartum depression, a doctor makes the correct diagnosis. The first point of contact if you suspect postpartum depression should be your gynecologist. He will discuss the procedure and, under certain circumstances, refer the patient to a psychologist or an outpatient clinic.

There is a specialized questionnaire to confirm the diagnosis. Once the diagnosis of postpartum depression has been made, the further course depends on the right therapy. Postpartum depression can last for several months. This leaves the mothers feeling hopeless. It also happens that postpartum depression goes undiagnosed. The later postpartum depression is treated, the worse the course. In the worst case, thoughts of killing arise. Furthermore, the woman suffering from postpartum depression can develop a disturbed relationship with the child.


If a depressive illness in the mother is not recognized early in childbirth, this has fatal effects on the relationship with the newborn or even with the child’s father. Even if the anticipation was great, it is now possible that the mother rejects her child and therefore does not provide enough care. For example, the newborn is no longer breastfed and loses weight.

It also does not benefit from the antibodies that are contained in breast milk and protect against all environmental influences. Sometimes the mother experiences painful engorgement, which has a further negative effect on her mood. The emotional bond between mother and child is also disturbed and often means that the baby is not given any attention, even when it is crying loudly.

As a result, it develops fears that become deeply rooted and affect relationship behavior in adulthood. If the depression is not treated in time, it can lead to violence, for example if the mother shakes the newborn out of desperation or touches it too tightly. In addition to the mother-child relationship, postpartum depression also affects the relationship with the child’s father. For example, if the sick mother is treated as an inpatient, this means either that contact with the wife and child is withdrawn or that full responsibility is handed over to him.

When should you go to the doctor?

The state of being emotionally overwhelmed is common in young mothers. In many cases, no doctor is needed, since the condition is self-regulating and harmonizing. Immediately after childbirth, there is a hormonal change in the body. This can lead to severe mood swings, tearful behavior and diffuse fears. With a stable social environment and sufficient understanding, an alleviation of the symptoms can be noticed after a few days or weeks.

Healing often occurs on its own. However, if the existing irregularities increase in intensity, consultation with the treating doctor or midwife should be sought. If the young mother has the feeling that she is not able to take sufficient care of her offspring, it is advisable to consult a doctor. With a feeling of deep dissatisfaction, uselessness, as well as apathy, medical help should be sought.

If symptoms such as loss of appetite, neglect or never-ending sadness appear, a doctor should be consulted. In the case of hypersensitivity, severe mood swings and the inability to cope with everyday life, a doctor’s consultation is indicated. If suicidal thoughts develop or if the person concerned reports plans to end their life, immediate action must be taken. Relatives or close confidants are obliged to get help.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment options for postpartum depression are very good. As a rule, it heals without any problems. But self-help is not enough in most cases. If the symptoms last longer than two weeks, the mother must seek help. If postpartum depression is severe, professional help must be provided immediately. Sometimes a stay of several weeks in a special clinic is necessary to stabilize the mother again. The baby can be taken to some clinics so as not to disturb the relationship.

Depending on the severity and cause, several methods are used as treatment methods: psychotherapy, hormone therapy, systemic family therapy or music therapy. In many cases, psychotropic drugs are given as support. Naturopathic methods can also relieve postpartum depression. Acupuncture deserves special mention here.

Over-the-counter medications should be used with caution. They can pass into breast milk and harm the child. In milder forms, it is possible that a discussion group with other sufferers can alleviate postpartum depression.


To prevent postpartum depression, the mother can take a number of precautions before the birth. She can provide a social network and help after the birth. So the partner should take a vacation to start the first time together with the baby. If there are siblings in the house, the mother should get help here too. So grandma or a friend can play with the older child while the mother breastfeeds the baby. So it’s about relief so that you don’t get the feeling: I can’t do it all!


The clinical picture of postpartum depression and its course can express themselves very differently in the affected women. It is therefore not possible to make general statements about any aftercare measures. In most cases, after postnatal depression, it is advisable to at least continue to see your family doctor regularly.

This is especially necessary when those affected are being treated with medication. In addition, patients who have already suffered from depression or postpartum depression in the past should receive intensive medical care even after healing, as they are at particularly high risk of recurrence. It is strongly discouraged to voluntarily discontinue psychotropic drugs or reduce the dose.

This should always be decided by a doctor. It is also advisable to continue to seek psychotherapeutic or psychiatric treatment. However, whether this is necessary should be clarified in consultation with the doctor treating you. Such treatment is particularly advisable for patients who already suffered from mental illnesses from postpartum depression.

In a few cases, medical follow-up care after postpartum depression is not necessary. The affected women should nevertheless avoid psychological stress and, in the event of a recurrence, they should definitely consult their family doctor or a psychiatrist.

You can do that yourself

In the case of postpartum depression, support from a partner, family members and friends is important for many women. In some cities, those affected organize themselves into self-help groups in order to meet regularly and exchange information about postnatal depression. The participants support each other emotionally and help each other to find solutions to specific problems. This form of social support from others can have benefits, but it is not an equivalent substitute for proper treatment. Self-help groups for postpartum depression are mostly lacking in rural areas, so online groups are a possible alternative.

It helps some women with postnatal depression to treat themselves to soothing moments, such as taking a warm bath or listening to relaxing music. Small breaks in everyday life can help to reduce the overall psychological stress. Some patients benefit from setting small goals that they can realistically achieve, such as going for a walk or completing a specific chore around the house. Such behavioral activation can lead to a sense of achievement in everyday life that motivates. Long to-do lists, on the other hand, are often counterproductive as they can lead to frustration.

Some experts recommend a healthy diet, exercise, and enough sleep to help prevent mood from deteriorating further. Various studies show that exercise can reduce depressive symptoms.

Postpartum Depression