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Postpartum mental health issues: What you need to know

What is it?

Postpartum mental health issues can be suffered by mothers after giving birth.

Postpartum depression (PPD) occurs in 10 to 15 per cent of women who have just given birth.

A less severe form, known as "baby blues," is common, occurring in about 90 per cent of women. It is not considered a mental illness.

In about one in 1,000 women, postpartum depression can take a more severe form: postpartum psychosis.

When does it happen?

Postpartum mental health issues can occur at any time within the first year after a woman gives birth.

What causes postpartum mental health issues?

The causes of of these mental health issues may be related to hormonal changes brought about by childbirth and to the changes a new baby brings to the life of a family. Women who have a family history of depression, or who have suffered from depression before, are at greater risk for postpartum mental health issues.

What are the symptoms?

While the "baby blues" have mild symptoms of sleeplessness and crying spells, serious postpartum depression has a wider range of symptoms, and they typically last longer than two weeks.

Symptoms include:

  • Changes in sleep patterns, either being unable to sleep or sleeping too much.
  • Fatigue or lack of energy.
  • Changes in appetite, either eating too little or too much.
  • Feeling hopeless, a loss of control or great sadness.
  • Crying for no reason.
  • Having no feelings or too much concern for the baby.
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger.
  • Feeling little interest in daily activities.
  • Feelings of guilt.
  • Anxiety or panic attacks.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Scary and repetitive thoughts about the safety of the baby.


The symptoms of postpartum psychosis are exaggerated to the point of delusions and hallucinations, including hearing voices.

Hallucinations and uncontrollable agitation are signs the mother needs immediate medical attention.

What are the treatments

Postpartum mental health issues are treatable with counselling and/or medication.

Where to get help for postpartum mental health issues

  • Talk to your Public Health Nurse
  • Talk to your doctor or midwife. For assistance in finding a family doctor call the Family Doctor Connection Program at 204-786-7111.
  • For information about resources and supports call the Women’s Health Clinic Mothers Program at 204-947-1517.

Source: Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

If you’re having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby or are feeling in crisis:

  • Call Mobile Crisis Service 204-940-1781 (24 Hours)
  • Go to the Crisis Response Centre at 817 Bannatyne Ave (Open 24 hours)
  • Call Klinic Community Health Centre Crisis Line 204-786-8686
  • Call Manitoba Suicide Line 1-877-435-7170 (24 hours).
  • If you need more information and help finding resources call Health Links-Info Santé at 204-788-8200 (24 Hours).

Source: Winnipeg Regional Health Authority