PostPartum Depression & Anxiety

By Shaila Misri, M.D.

Postpartum Depression affects 10-28% of new mothers. It can begin days, weeks, or months after delivery. Symptoms may include:

  • insomnia
  • exhaustion
  • excessive sleeping but still feeling exhausted
  • changes in appitite
  • loss of sexual interest
  • crying spells without obvious cause
  • feelings of guilt
  • sadness
  • anger
  • feelings of despair and/or worthlessness
  • may become forgetful
  • difficulty making decisions
  • poor concentration

Research is ongoing into the causes of Postpartum Depression. Contributing factors may be physiological, sociological, psychological, and genetic.

Treatment for Postpartum Depression can be as varied as the symptoms. Common approaches include:

  • Creating a supportive environment for the mother
  • Self-Care
  • Support groups
  • Counselling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication

The duration of a Postpartum depression will depend upon how quickly the condition was recognized and treatment given, but full recovery can be expected.

PostPartum Anxiety/Panic Disorder

Postpartum Depression With Anxiety/Panic Disorder can be very disturbing. In addition to having symptoms of Postpartum depression, the new mother may experience:

  • difficulty concentrating and remembering
  • difficulty making decisions
  • difficulty completing simple tasks such as doing the dishes or the laundry
  • insomnia
  • exhaustion
  • loss of appetite
  • may have suicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety/Panic Attacks

Shaila Misri, MD, FRCP(C) describes Panic Attack as follows:

A discreet episode of intense fear reaching it's peak intensity within 10 minutes from onset. Often associated with or accompanied by feelings of impending doom.

At least 4 of the following 14 symptoms are present during an attack:

  • shortness of breath
  • choking or smothering sensation
  • palpitations or accelerated heart rate
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • sweating
  • faintness
  • dizziness, lightheadedness or unsteady feelings
  • nausea or abdominal distress
  • depersonalization (feeling disoriented or that the world has become unreal)
  • tingling sensation (parasthesia)
  • hot flashes or chills
  • trembling or shaking
  • fear of dying
  • fear of going crazy or doing something uncontrolled

      Although the panic attacks are discrete episodes, the individual may develop varying degrees of nervousness and apprehension between attacks characterized by tension, agitation, vigilance and scanning.


PostPartum Psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is very rare occurring in approximately one in one thousand new mothers. It is an obvious disorder that requires immediate hospitalization. Symptoms include:

  • hyperactivity
  • increased rate of speech
  • delusions
  • paranoia
  • extreme confusion
  • hallucinations
  • extreme depression

With immediate treatment, psychotic episodes usually cease in about 8-9 weeks.

Postnatal Depression

Postnatal Mental Disturbance

The Book

Postpartum Depression

Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS)

Are SSRIs safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women?


HOME | Postnatal Depression, Changing Childbirth & Faltering Families | Postnatal Mental Disturbance | The Book | | | |