For those who have never been affected by Postpartum Illness, it is difficult to fully comprehend how the excitement and anticipation of a new birth can turn into depression. Why, when a new baby has miraculously been welcomed into a family, does an all-enveloping reaction sometimes set in and cause such devastation to the mother?

Over 80% of new mothers experience a brief period of 'baby blues' immediately following the baby's arrival, a clinical depression that lasts several weeks or longer can signal a very real illness. In such cases, a birth can trigger a terrifying spectrum of symptoms which, if left untreated, can lead to tragic and even fatal consequences.

Postpartum Illness can disable not only the woman, but her entire family as well. Families may fall apart, with stable homes being ripped apart in divorce; unfortunately, children often bear the brunt of this outcome. It is undisputed that if untreated, Postpartum Illness can lead to abuse, hospitalization, suicide and infanticide.

Statistics show that women suffer from depression twice as much as men, both from biological as well as environmental reasons (lack of support, financial worries, trauma, etc.). Depression, whether it is biological or situational affects sleep and appetite, moods, and the ability to enjoy life.

Three factors that can influence recovery from a depression are a healthy support system, coping mechanisms, and perception. By working together to provide the proper support for a new mother, we can battle the illness and help her recover quickly and properly.


The symptoms in women facing Postpartum Illness can vary and include a range of reactions. The following is a list of possible symptoms, listed in order of seventy. While Depression and Anxiety are debilitating for the mother and her family, Mania and Psychosis are far more dangerous and require immediate medical attention.

Depression: The onset of Postpartum Depression is usually, but not always. between the third month through the first year after childbirth. She may experience a range of symptoms which, if lasting longer than two weeks, signal depression:

  • Lack of energy, motivation, or interest in activities
  • Feelings of restlessness, irritability, worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from loved ones including the newborn baby
  • Significant crying
  • Eating and/or sleeping too much or too little
  • Difficulty focusing or making decisions

Anxiety: Panic attack symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pains. choking sensations. dizziness. tingling in hands or feet, trembling and shakiness. a feeling of losing control, sweating, faintness, hot or cold flushes. and feelings of paralysis in hands or feet. With panic attacks and extreme fears and phobias, some women fear they are dying, going crazy or losing control.


Biological Factors

On a medical level there is a massive change from the hormones of pregnancy to the hormones of postpartum or breast-feeding, which can also have an effect on the neurochemistry of the brain. There is no full understanding of what happens after birth that triggers postpartum effects, but the dramatic hormone switch can disturb the balance of the other neurotransmitters, causing a woman to experience anxiety, depression, mania or psychosis. Even when the hormones return to normal, the depression will not lift until the chemical levels in her brain are corrected and she is receiving appropriate professional help.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors play a role in higher rates of depression among women. Environmental factors may exacerbate Postpartum Illness. Many new mothers experience fatigue and extreme sleep deprivation that contribute to mood swings and irritability.


Research indicates that only 24% of all women suffering from Postpartum Illness are actually diagnosed. Postpartum Illness is treatable, but proper diagnosis must be made as early as possible. To help women properly recover, it is vital to ensure that they fully understand the symptoms, causes, and recovery process.

Postpartum Illness can be treated through medication and/or therapy. Each woman needs to have a tailor-made treatment program specifically designed to ensure the best response and recovery.