UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Obstetrics & Gynecology

Title: Postpartum Depression

Keywords: postpartum depression (PubMed Search)

Posted: 5/2/2024 by Michele Callahan, MD (Updated: 7/17/2024)
Click here to contact Michele Callahan, MD

Perinatal mental health problems are unfortunately quite common: according to the World Health Organization, approximately 10% of women in high-income countries and approximately 30% in low- or middle-income countries are affected.

It's important to be able to distinguish “baby blues” from more significant mental health issues. Typical symptoms of the “baby blues” include mild and short-lived changes in mood, as well as feelings of exhaustion, worry, and unhappiness in the weeks that follow giving birth.

Symptoms that are more severe or lasting >2 weeks post-partum should prompt further investigation and discussion with a mental health professional. Symptoms of perinatal depression may include: feeling persistently sad, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies/activities, trouble bonding with the infant, appetite changes, and can even become as severe as wanting to harm onself or one's child. There are specific DSM-5 Criteria used to diagnose postpartum depression.

Universal screening for all pregnant and postpartum patients is highly recommended, and can be life-saving.


Bauman BL, Ko JY, Cox S, et al. Vital Signs: Postpartum Depressive Symptoms and Provider Discussions About Perinatal Depression — United States, 2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:575–581. DOI: