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When to Get Help for Post-Partum Depression: Signs to Watch For

It’s common to think of new mothers as being overjoyed about their new baby. But sadly, in reality, not all new mothers are thrilled, and some are just the opposite. 

A new baby can be overwhelming and stressful due to the new responsibilities, decreased sleep, and loss of time for yourself. New mothers can go through a spectrum of emotions, from excitement and joy, to fear, anxiety, and even depression. 

When to Get Help for Post-Partum Depression

Postpartum depression vs the “baby blues”

Mild depressive symptoms like sadness and crying define the “baby blues.” Approximately 70-80% of women experience short-term mood swings, random bursts of sadness or crying, irritability, or other mood changes indicative of post-partum blues. 

Symptoms usually develop within two to three days after childbirth and resolve without intervention within two weeks. Usually, these mild symptoms don’t affect daily functioning or the mother’s ability to take care of her baby. 

You’re probably already aware that hormone levels change drastically during and after pregnancy. Fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy result in symptoms like brain fog and mood swings. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) attributes the post-pregnancy blues to the sudden change in hormone levels after delivery.  

Postpartum depression (PPD) on the other hand, is a more severe, long-lasting mental illness that impacts about 10% of new moms. PPD symptoms usually start within four weeks of childbirth, but can also start during pregnancy (perinatal depression). 

The symptoms of postpartum depression include: 

  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy 
  • Mood swings 
  • Trouble sleeping (sleeping too much or not enough) 
  • Feelings of sadness and emptiness 
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt 

PPD can interrupt the bonding between mother and child. The lack of bond can make it hard to take care of your baby, breastfeed, or even just take care of yourself. PPD can also manifest as an anxiety disorder, making you worry excessively or feel like you’re unable to stop worrying about things. 

What are the risks of postpartum depression?

Because PPD negatively impacts bonding with your new baby, in extreme cases, it can result in neglect. Depression can also become cyclical: depression makes you unable to properly care for your baby, so you feel guilty or like a bad mother, which feeds into your depression, which makes it harder to care for yourself and your baby, which creates more guilt, and so on. 

New mothers can go through a spectrum of emotions, from excitement and joy, to fear, anxiety, and even depression. 

What are the causes and risk factors for PPD? 

Medical experts don’t fully understand why some mothers develop postpartum depression and others do not. Social, economic, genetic, and hormonal factors appear to play a role. 

One confirmed factor is that patients with a preexisting mental health condition have an increased risk of postpartum depression. 

Other factors that increase your risk of PPD include: 

  • Family history of mood disorders 
  • A history of depression or postpartum depression 
  • Anxiety or depression during pregnancy 
  • Bipolar disorder or schizophrenia increase your risk of PPD and postpartum psychosis 
  • Lack of emotional support from loved ones or family members 
  • Financial uncertainty 
  • Discontinuation of mental health medications during pregnancy 
Schedule an Appointment with Dr. Rad

Call (844) 473-6100 or click here to schedule online

Where can I find help for postpartum depression? 

In January 2016, the U.S. Prevention Services Task Force (USPSTF) updated its recommendation for depression screening to include screening pregnant and postpartum women. Many obstetricians schedule visits at two or three weeks postpartum to screen for depression so help can be provided promptly. 

If you’re experiencing depressive symptoms for more than two weeks during your first year postpartum: contact a professional. Dr. Rad can work with your healthcare team and mental health professionals to get you the care you need.  

Depressive symptoms can also be a side effect of health problems such as thyroid disorders, nutrient deficiencies, and hormonal imbalances. Dr. Rad will work with you to get to the root of your problem and improve your sense of well-being. 

Support for postpartum depression comes in a variety of treatment options including: 


In cases of mild depression, the American Psychiatric Association supports psychotherapy (talk therapy) as the first choice of treatment. It may help to speak with a mental health care provider who is well-versed in post-delivery mood disorders. 

Postpartum depression counseling can provide tools to help you cope with uncomfortable or unproductive feelings, solve problems, set realistic goals, and can help you feel supported throughout the process. 

Support groups 

Some local organizations offer in-person and online postpartum support groups. These support groups provide opportunities to connect with other new mothers who understand the challenges you’re going through.    

Postpartum Support International (PSI) has regional coordinators to provide support, encouragement, and information on PPD. They also have a hotline to get you in touch with a coordinator quickly. 


There is a wide range of medications available for treating mental health problems — including PPD. The first line of treatment for postpartum depression is antidepressant medications. These can take a few weeks to start working fully, but are worth it to get you feeling like yourself again. 

Why choose Dr. Steve Rad and the Los Angeles Fetal and Maternal Care Center?

Did you know that all pregnancies in the United States are at risk of becoming high-risk? Even a pregnancy that begins “low-risk” can become high-risk. That is no secret to double-board certified Dr. Steve Rad, an Obstetrician-Gynecologist with sub-specialty training in Maternal-Fetal Medicine / Perinatology. 

Dr. Rad and his women’s health team are committed to your well-being from pre-conception through delivery and beyond. If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mood problems postpartum, he’s here for you. 

Call us at (844) 473-6100 or schedule your consultation online. We are currently accepting new patients. 

We are conveniently located for patients throughout Southern California and the Los Angeles area at locations in or near Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Culver City, Hollywood, Venice, Marina del Rey, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Newport Beach, Irvine, and Downtown Los Angeles. We also offer in-home prenatal care and a fly-in program for out-of-town and international patients. Dr. Rad even travels to patients who need him throughout the U.S. and around the world. 

Call (844) 473-6100 or click here to schedule online