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About Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Postpartum depression and anxiety affects 1 in 7 women. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. These symptoms respond well to support and treatment. Read more below to learn about details.

Postpartum depression is NOT the baby blues. Baby blues is considered a normal part of postpartum adjustment, requiring no medical or psychological intervention. Postpartum depression (PPD) is an umbrella term that refers to various mood or anxiety disorders which can follow childbirth. PPD can present in a number of ways depending on the predominating set of symptoms. PPD is typically an agitated depression, with symptoms of both depression and anxiety. When depressive symptoms dominate, we refer to it as postpartum depression. When anxiety is the compelling symptom, we refer to it as a postpartum anxiety disorder. Postpartum anxiety disorders include postpartum panic, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder and postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder.

Some experts are now comfortable using the term postpartum distress to encompass both symptoms of depression and anxiety and perinatal depression and anxiety to include pregnancy and the postpartum period. You will now run across references to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders which is most inclusive. This is important because many women do not identify with symptoms of depression and this may cause confusion or interfere with help-seeking efforts.

Perinatal depression and anxiety is the most common complication following childbirth, characterized by frequent crying, mood swings, irritability, extreme fatigue, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, loss of sexual interest, pervasive anxiety, appetite changes, negative scary thoughts, feelings of inadequacy, ruminating, hopelessness and despair. In addition, thoughts of suicide and feelings of anger, rage, shame and guilt are often present.

Postpartum psychosis is a severe medical condition that is often misdiagnosed as postpartum depression. Psychosis occurs in 1 or 2 out of 1,000 postpartum women and if often associated with bipolar illness. The most common symptoms are severe agitation, delusional or bizarre thinking, hallucinations, insomnia, confusion, and a feeling of being out of touch with reality.

It is always an emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

Download our Information Sheet

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If you are experiencing symptoms after the birth of your baby, or if you are concerned about the way you are feeling, it is important that you let your healthcare provider know how you are feeling. Let us know if we can help you.


Depression is not a sign of weakness. It means you have been strong for too long.


Are You Worried About the Way You Feel?

  • If you are concerned about the way you are feeling:
    Certainly you should call us. Sometimes, women feel better after the first phone call, when they can get some reassurance that their symptoms may not be as worrisome as they fear. If you are unable to reach us by phone, email us at If you are worried about your symptoms, be sure to contact your healthcare practitioner. If you live outside our local area and are unable to travel to the PPSC for an evaluation, or are unable to find a PPD specialist in your area, we are available for a one-time phone consultation. If you live outside our local area, please do not email us with your specific symptoms. Please understand that we are not able to respond to individual clinical concerns for women we are not treating. It is imperative that you speak with the doctor and/or therapist who is treating you.
  • If you need emotional support:
    Follow us on IG, FB, and Twitter. If you would like to reach out to other women who are experiencing similar concerns, please join our closed Facebook group by "liking" The Postpartum Stress Center page and messaging us with your email. We will send you an invite.
  • Media:
    If you are requesting an interview with Karen Kleiman email
  • Professional Clinical Consult:
    If you are a clinician treating women with prenatal or postpartum mood disorders and would like consultation with a particular case, please complete our professional consultation form. or email us. If one phone conversation is insufficient, ongoing consultation or mentoring with Karen Kleiman is available at the PPSC. In addition, please consider joining our 12-Hour Post-Graduate Training Program for intensive exploration of perinatal depression and anxiety and related treatment issues.
  • Professional Inquiries:
    Please feel free to contact the PPSC with any questions you may have
  • Speaking Engagements:
    If you are a local organization and would like a staff member from the PPSC to speak to your organization, please email with detailed information.
  • Student:
    If you are a student who is studying postpartum depression and anxiety, writing a research paper, interested in observing groups or therapy, or working on your dissertation, please understand that although we unquestionably support the work you are doing, we are not able to respond to individual inquiries.
  • Web Materials:
    All information on this website has been designed for personal use for individual women and their families. Users are free to copy for personal use, provided no fee is charged, no changes are made and credit is given to The Postpartum Stress Center, LLC and
Worried Way You Feel

A Note to Dads


It’s possible that you too may be experiencing symptoms of depression. A study by Paulson in 2006 reported that 10% of all new dads experience symptoms of a clinical depression after the birth of a baby. That’s one out of every ten dads! Not only is it more common than we ever knew but if you think about it, it makes sense that some of the same factors that are contributing to a woman’s depression may impact you, too. If you don’t like the way you are feeling or think that something’s just not right, think about this:

Some factors in your life that may contribute to feelings of depression:
  • Personal history of depression/anxiety

  • Family history of depression/anxiety

  • History of alcohol or drug dependence

  • History of obsessive-compulsive tendencies

  • Change or dissatisfaction with job

  • Financial pressures

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Marital discord

  • Insufficient support network

  • Ambivalence about your role as father

  • Impaired relationship with your own father or mother


Depression doesn’t always feel like you think it would. Some people do experience deep sadness and feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness.

But you might also (or instead) be feeling:
  • Irritable

  • Unable to sleep

  • Anxious

  • Disinterested in pleasurable activities

  • Distractible

  • Frustrated or short-tempered

  • Reckless or impulsive

  • Alone or cut off from others

  • Tempted to spend time away from home

  • Disillusioned

  • Excessively worried about finances

  • Displeased with your job

  • Dissatisfied with your marriage

  • Rejected by your wife

  • Critical of yourself or others

  • Angry or overly reactive

  • Restless and/or exhausted

If your wife is depressed:

If you wife is currently being treated for postpartum depression, you may be feeling additional pressure to “keep it together” while she is recovering. That’s understandable. Depending on your relationship with your wife, how she is currently doing and how bad you are feeling, it makes sense that you would need to balance what you need to do for yourself and what you need to do for your wife. But remember, you will be more helpful to her if you are strong and healthy so don’t sacrifice your well-being. The last thing she needs to worry about is how YOU are doing. So do what YOU need to do to take care of YOURSELF.


What you might do that will NOT help:

  • Deny that you are feeling bad

  • Try to ignore your feelings

  • Hope that this will take care of itself in time

  • Spend more time away from the house

  • Hide what you are feeling

  • Withdraw from friends/family


Think faulty thoughts such as:

  • Strong men don’t get sick, OR, depression is a weakness

  • Work longer hours

  • Spend more time acting-out, ex:staying out late, going out after work, drinking more

  • Snap at others around you who are trying to support you

  • Reject help


What you can (and should!) do:

  • Let others know how you are feeling.

  • Confide in someone you trust.

  • Contact a healthcare provider that you feel comfortable with.

  • If you are interested in therapy, ask someone for a referral.

  • Do not let your financial concerns get in the way of you seeking help.

  • Do not expect to feel better right away.

  • Participate in sports or mild exercise.

  • Put off making major decisions at this time.


Why it’s hard to get help:

  • You’d rather not tell anyone how you are feeling.

  • You’d rather believe this is just normal crankiness that will go away with a good night’s sleep

  • You’d rather acknowledge that all new dads are exhausted and feel this way.

  • It feels easier not to deal with it.

  • Men tend to be less willing to acknowledge their emotional symptoms.

  • Men are more likely to suppress their depression through the use of alcohol or other substances.


Why it’s important that you DO get help:

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects your whole body, your mood, and your thoughts.
Everyone in your family needs you to be healthy. When you take care of yourself, your wife will feel better, your baby will feel better, and YOU will feel better. If you are worried about the way you are feeling, ask for help so you can receive the treatment you need to get back on track.

If you need help now:

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