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What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is a deep sadness that occurs after your baby’s birth and interferes with your daily life. It is the most common pregnancy complication that can affect both women and men in the time immediately after childbirth, and symptoms often start well before delivery. These can range from hormonal changes to physical adjustments and a new lifestyle at home. 

Can You Have Postpartum Depression While Pregnant?

You can have symptoms of depression during pregnancy that are the same as postpartum depression. When these symptoms occur during pregnancy, it’s called perinatal depression or perinatal anxiety. Perinatal depression is highly treatable. Call your doctor if you are pregnant and experiencing depression symptoms. 

Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression involves more than feeling sad for a few days after delivering your baby. It is a serious condition that involves your brain and affects your behavior and physical health. Feelings of sadness that go away within three to five days of childbirth are commonly called the "baby blues" and not clinically diagnosable. 

Postpartum Depression Symptoms

Signs of postpartum depression may include the following symptoms:

  • Drop in mood
  • Lack of motivation to do everyday tasks, even those that don’t involve your baby
  • Feeling run-down
  • Increased irritability
  • Excessively guilty feelings
  • Lack of interest in caring for your baby or yourself
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Periods of hyperactivity (manic episodes)
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you’re a partner or family member, it’s important to pay close attention to a parent’s health and behavior during their pregnancy. If you’re a new parent, call your doctor if you feel sad, scared, or overwhelmed to the point where it interferes with your daily activities. Severe mental health conditions can be prevented if caught and treated early. 

When to Seek Help

You should call your doctor if you're experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • You’re still feeling sad, scared, hopeless, or overwhelmed a couple of weeks after giving birth.
  • Your negative feelings feel overwhelming and interfere with your daily life,
  • Your initial feelings of sadness went away a few days after delivery then came back. 

If your symptoms last longer than two weeks, call your doctor. It’s better for you to reach out for help as soon as possible. If you’re experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, call Perinatal Mental Health Services at 801-585-1565. 

Feeling sad, overwhelmed, depressed, or scared is common after pregnancy. Asking for help allows your doctor to help you be the best mom you can be. The best place for babies is with their moms, so your care team will work to help you feel more comfortable and confident caring for your baby in your own home. 

Why Choose Huntsman Mental Health Institute?

At Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI), we care for patients during their pregnancies and throughout the postpartum period. Our Perinatal Mental Health Services provide a full continuum of care and work with women at all stages of their parenthood experience, including those who have been pregnant within the last year. We help you take care of yourself during the postpartum period, because we recognize it is such a big life change. 

Our specialists are trained to help moms struggling with various mental health disorders related to being pregnant and/or giving birth. We offer many types of services for postpartum depression:

  • Outpatient clinics
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Perinatal support and education groups

Find a Postpartum Depression Specialist

For the Love of Mothers

Learn how U of U Health researchers, a team of community partners, and Utah mothers across the state are working together to build new programs that address postpartum mental health disorders. 

Postpartum Depression in Men

Postpartum depression affects male caregivers as well. Dads must deal with the lack of sleep, lifestyle changes, and relationship shifts that occur when a new baby is brought into a household. Depressive symptoms often present differently in new dads than new moms. Men are more likely to work longer hours or distance themselves from the baby. They are also less likely than women to seek help. Postpartum depression in men must be recognized and treated so that dads can fully bond with their baby and engage in a healthy emotional relationship within their new family dynamic.

Postpartum Depression Screening

Our postpartum depression screening system helps detect and treat postpartum depression while the condition is in the early stages. You will be given a routine questionnaire to fill out at regular intervals during your prenatal and postpartum checkups. If you feel you may be experiencing depression symptoms, you can ask for a screening questionnaire at any time. Early detection and treatment are key to achieving the best possible outcome.

Depressive symptoms are usually noticed by a care provider when new moms come in for their postpartum checkup or at one of their newborn’s checkups. If moms screen positive for depression or anxiety, their doctor will check in with them to see how their parenthood experience has been for them emotionally. 

What Causes Postpartum Depression?

Many mental health issues during and after pregnancy are attributed to just being tired or adjusting to new parenthood. But the effects of not sleeping extend far beyond feeling tired during the day. Prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to mental health issues and is a contributing factor to postpartum depression. 

Aside from lack of sleep, delivering or caring for a baby is the primary contributing factor to postpartum depression. Moms or caregivers of any age, socioeconomic status, and marital status can be affected by this condition.

Postpartum Depression Treatment

At HMHI, we offer many different treatments for patients with postpartum depression:

  • Cognitive therapy (talk therapy)—This is a commonly used method that pairs patients with a mental health professional who talks with them about their problems and feelings. The professional is usually a therapist, psychologist, or social worker, and they are specially trained to help women who are struggling emotionally, mentally, or physically after delivering a baby.
  • Postpartum depression medication—There are various kinds of prescription medicines that help treat postpartum depression. All must be taken under a doctor’s supervision, and some cannot be taken if you are breastfeeding or may become pregnant. Antidepressants are commonly prescribed to treat this condition, and some take several weeks to start working. Your doctor will help decide if medication is a good fit for you and choose the best type and dosage. 
  • Support groups—New motherhood can be challenging. Sometimes, forming a supportive network with other women experiencing the same life changes you’re going through can make a difference in your ability to cope with these new experiences. At HMHI, our new mothers’ support group meets every second and fourth Wednesday of the month at 12 pm via Zoom. To register or learn more, email us at: 

How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last?

Without treatment, it can last for months or even years and turn into chronic depression. But postpartum depression is highly treatable and you should start feeling relief within a few weeks after beginning treatment. 

At HMHI, we take a highly specialized approach to each patient. On average, moms dealing with postpartum depression are usually in our treatment program between three to six months.

Signs of a Mental Health Crisis

Sometimes, you might need help sooner than the next available appointment at your doctor’s office. Call a doctor immediately for the following thoughts and symptoms: 

  • You’re experiencing suicidal thoughts.
  • You have thoughts of harming your baby.
  • You have thoughts of harming yourself.
  • You’re struggling to stay in touch with reality.

If you or your loved one experience these symptoms outside of your doctor’s normal office hours, you can call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or Utah Crisis Line at 801-587-3000. If there is an immediate threat to the safety of mom and/or baby, calling 911 or going to the nearest emergency room is an option. If you call the crisis line, someone can help you determine the next step you should take to ensure the best possible outcome. 

All these symptoms are treatable and nothing to feel ashamed of. But they are considered emergent situations and immediate care is needed to ensure the best possible outcome. 

NICU Mothers Support Group

It can feel scary, isolating, and lonely to have a newborn in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), but you do not have to experience this on your own. The first step is to seek out others that will understand, offer guidance, and help you navigate one of the hardest moments of your life. Approximately 70 percent of mothers of NICU infants will experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (PMAD) including postpartum PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). 

Our support group offers many great benefits for NICU parents:

  • Meeting others at various stages of NICU life
  • Support with navigating your time in the NICU
  • Support from those that have since graduated the NICU
  • Led by a NICU/and other ICU survivor
  • Exploration of feelings and emotions surrounding live in the NICU
  • Resources available to ask for additional help
  • Support advocating for your needs and your baby’s needs.

Email us for group times and enrollment information:

Free Postpartum Support Group

Our Perinatal Mental Health program is offering a drop-in support group for expecting and new mothers seeking peer support within a confidential and safe space. This participant-driven group is facilitated by mental health and social work master's level students.

Weekly discussion topics may include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Balancing motherhood with other life roles
  • Sex and sexuality
  • Body image
  • Social support/social life changes
  • Emotional/spiritual changes
  • Decision making as a parent/partner
  • Change in spousal relationship
  • Financial pressures/budgeting
  • Everyday stresses and pressures of being a mom

We host meetings every second and fourth Wednesday of the month at 12 pm via Zoom. A link will be sent to you after registration. To register or find out more information, email us at:

Learn More About Postpartum Depression