Postpartum Depression

Put most simply, postpartum depression (PPD) refers to a depressive episode that occurs within the first year after the birth of the baby. Although most commonly seen in mothers, fathers can also experience postpartum mood changes. Fifteen percent of the time, depressive symptoms start during pregnancy. Postpartum depression is different from the “baby blues” which refers to transient mood changes lasting no more than two weeks. If mood changes persist for two weeks or more, you may have a postpartum depression that should be assessed. Other depressive symptoms seen more commonly in PPD include:

  • Excessive worry about the baby’s health or well being
  • Severe sleep deprivation
  • Profound anxiety or panic attacks
  • Feelings of extreme inadequacy and self-doubt, particularly around care of the
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby or lack of interest in bonding
  • Some women with PPD have fears or thoughts about hurting their baby but
    know that they will not act on these thoughts. This is relatively common. In much
    rarer cases, women may experience postpartum psychosis, which means that she
    has lost contact with reality. In such cases, immediate assessment by a
    medical professional is required, for the safety of both the woman and the baby.

Postpartum depression may go untreated because of the difficulty leaving home to get to an appointment or because of the intense involvement required in caring for a newborn.  It is however a condition that can respond very well to counselling or in other cases medication, or both.  If you would like to call or email me to discuss your personal situation, I would be happy to hear from you.

Related Articles

Top Tips for Eating Well When You’re Depressed

March 2012 In Depression

Practical suggestions for eating when your mood is low.

Postpartum Tips

April 2011 In Postpartum Issues

A variety of strategies for navigating the postpartum period.

Recommended Books

Mothering the New Mother: Women’s Feelings and Needs After Childbirth: A Support and Reference Guide by Sally Placksin (2000)

The author honours the experience of new motherhood and the need for nurturance and care for the mother at a time when all attention is on baby. Combines women’s comments, resources and practical strategies in the text.


Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: A Self-Help Guide for Mothers (4th edition)

This gentle guidebook, published by the Pacific Postpartum Support Society, offers encouragement, support and helpful advice to mothers experiencing postpartum mood changes. Recommended.

It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had A Baby, A Breakdown and A Much-Needed Margarita by Heather B. Armstong (2009)

The author of the popular blog shares her experience of first-time motherhood and subsequent postpartum depression.

The Smiling Mask: Truths About Postpartum Depression and Parenthood by Carla O’Reilly, Elita Patterson, Tania Bird et al (2008)

Three Saskatchewan women tell their personal stories of postpartum depression including postpartum psychosis. The authors also have their own website, which includes postpartum resources.

Behind the Smile: My Journey Out of Postpartum Depression by Marie Osmond (2001)

An early celebrity account of the experience of postpartum depression. Marie’s story will especially appeal to those seeking alternative treatments for PPD.

A Deeper Shade Of Blue: A Woman’s Guide to Recognizing and Treating Depression in Her Childbearing Years by Ruta Nonacs (2006)

This book is jam-packed with information on perinatal depression.  While informative, it may be overwhelming to read if depressed.

Beyond the Blues: A Guide to Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression by Shoshanna Bennett and Pec Indman (2003)

Updated version published June, 2006. Clear, concise information about perinatal mood changes and anxiety. Intended for laypeople and professionals.

Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Brooke Shields (2005)

Actress Brooke Shield’s intimate recounting of her experience through postpartum depression and back.

When Baby Brings the Blues: Solutions For Postpartum Depression by Ariel Dalfen (2009)

Written by a Toronto psychiatrist, this book provides straightforward, up to date information about post-partum depression along with practical suggestions for treatment.

The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood: Coping With Stress, Depression and Burnout by Kathleen A. Kendall-Tackett (2001)

Also includes chapters on childbearing loss and raising children with disabilities.


Reduced-Cost Counselling [PDF]

A resource list of lower-cost professional counselling options in Vancouver. Corrections and suggestions welcome.

College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC

For help in locating a family doctor in BC.

Vancouver Access and Assessment Centre (AAC)

604-675-3700 – Joseph and Rosalie Segal Centre, Vancouver Hospital, Level 1, East Entrance

24/7 phone, walk-in and outreach support for urgent, non life-threatening mental health and addictions issues.

Here to Help

BC-based website offering comprehensive information on a wealth of mental health conditions and addictions concerns.


24-7 crisis service for anyone that is suicidal, thinking about suicide or for concerned friends/family. BC-wide service.

Pacific Post Partum Society

Telephone support, support groups, partner support and resources for those suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety.

Coping With Suicidal Thoughts

Self-help guide (pdf). Not intended to replace professional help.

Mood Disorders Association of BC

 – Support groups, education, info and referral to people living with depression or bipolar disorder and their supporters. The MDA also has a counselling clinic.