Do I Have Postpartum Depression? A Simple Postpartum Depression Quiz

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated October 4, 2022

While Postpartum Depression was once spoken of in whispers behind closed doors, high-profile cases of the disorder have increasingly brought the disorder to light. This is a vast improvement, as a significant number of women experience some form of postpartum changes to their mental health, such as Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Anxiety. Also, there are resources that can help if you're wondering, "can online therapy improve postpartum depression?"

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Don't Wait To Get Support For Postpartum Depression

You might be wondering, what is Postpartum Depression? It's a depressive disorder. Its onset follows giving birth, and symptoms usually begin within a few days to a few weeks following birth. Postpartum Depression symptoms mimic typical depressive disorders in the way that it manifests, with a few stark differences that relate specifically to the parent of a child. Although the precise reason for its onset is not known, Postpartum Depression is now recognized as a valid, legitimate disorder that can follow giving birth. There may also be instances of experiencing the condition after adopting, but this is a lesser-studied form of depression. Postpartum depression symptoms typically last for one year or less postpartum, and it is a highly treatable condition. Most Postpartum Depression is considered a minor depressive disorder, but some cases may be severe enough to be classified as a major depressive disorder.

Postpartum Depression Versus Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety are similar mental health issues, and they may accompany one another. The symptoms associated with each are largely the same, with a few important differences. The similarities between Postpartum Depression symptoms and Postpartum Anxiety symptoms include:

  • Postpartum onset. Both conditions begin following the birth of a child. They may affect both parents but are more common among mothers. If depression or anxiety began prior to birth, it is not considered a postpartum disorder.
  • Increased levels of anxiety. Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety feature increased stress levels, including the fear that parenting ability is inadequate, and that a child will not be appropriately cared for.
  • Sleep changes. Both Postpartum Anxiety and Depression often demonstrate significant sleep changes as part of their symptom set. Postpartum Depression is typically characterized by an increased need to sleep, or feelings of exhaustion, while Postpartum Anxiety is more often characterized by trouble sleeping due to high levels of fear or worry.

Postpartum Depression symptoms also contain elements that Postpartum Anxiety symptoms do not, the most significant of which happen when thoughts of harming oneself or harming one’s child have occurred. Although Postpartum Anxiety might suggest to a parent that a child will be harmed — Postpartum Depression suggests that a child might be harmed by the parent, an important distinction that can help differentiate between Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety. This distinction is important, too, because it allows clinicians to more effectively and clearly deduce whether a parent is going through postpartum depression.

If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, and is available 24/7.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

It’s important to note that postpartum Depression symptoms may be obscured by the hormonal changes following pregnancy and birth. Still, there are definite symptoms associated with the condition, which can be evaluated by a mental health care professional. Postpartum Depression symptoms include:

  • Depressed mood. Although sadness is common following birth, as are feelings of overwhelm, persistent depressed mood is a sign of depression, rather than simple hormonal changes or sadness.
  • Difficulty with or inability to bond with your baby. Mothers and children experience significant bonding behaviors in the weeks and months following birth. When the Postpartum 
  • Fatigue and loss of energy. Although there is undoubtedly some fatigue common to new parents—newborns sleep only 2-3 hours or less at a time—typical fatigue is mitigated by sleep and rest. Fatigue that is not improved by sleep or rest may be a sign of postpartum depression.
  • Feeling shameful, guilty, or inadequate. While some amount of concern is normal for a new parent, it is not typical to feel as though you are incapable of caring for your child, nor is it typical to feel shameful or guilty about any perceived lack of ability. These feelings can indicate that depression is at play.
  • The desire to harm yourself or your baby. This is, arguably, one of the most distressing symptoms to new parents, as it can be frightening to experience thoughts of self-harm, or thoughts of harming your child. This symptom can also make it difficult to seek help. It is essential to know that this is a product of depression, though, rather than a legitimate desire to harm.

If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, and is available 24/7.

Is It Postpartum Depression?

Don't Wait To Get Support For Postpartum Depression

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that new mothers get screened for postpartum depression at least once during the perinatal period. Depression tests are confidential and covered by most health insurance providers. Although Postpartum Depression is a condition that needs to be diagnosed by a professional, there are some questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you are at risk for developing or having the disorder. These include:

  • A family history of Postpartum Depression. One of the greatest risk factors for developing Postpartum Depression is a family history of Postpartum Depression. Unfortunately, because this disorder was not always widely discussed or diagnosed, having a mother or grandmother with the condition might not be as familiar. Nevertheless, family history can still play a role, and even having a sibling with the diagnosis can provide a window into risk factors.
  • A family history of mood disorders. If there is not a family history of Postpartum Depression, but there are instances of mood disorders in your family, such as General Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, or others, you are at higher risk for developing the condition. Although the exact mechanisms of this are not known, there is a consistent link between family histories of mental illness and mental disorders and younger generations also possessing those disorders.
  • Are your hormone levels altered? In some cases, mood changes following pregnancy are caused by fluctuating hormones; during pregnancy, and after birth, the human body contains a veritable cocktail of intense hormonal reactions, many of which are capable of producing intense and unexpected mental and emotional effects. Working with a general practitioner to test hormone levels can be one step in determining whether or not you are at risk for Postpartum Depression.

If any of the above questions apply to you, your likelihood of developing Postpartum Depression is substantially increased. 

From there, a quick glance over depressive symptoms and the timing of their onset can further elucidate the likelihood of Postpartum Depression. These symptoms include:

  • Intense feelings of sadness. Some sadness is normal after delivery. The “baby blues” is a term that describes the hormonal changes and corresponding sadness that accompanies the transition from pregnancy to parenthood. When the feelings associated with the baby blues persist for more than a week or two and/or become worse, this is a sign of postpartum depression.
  • Thoughts of harm. Postpartum Depression is marked by thoughts of self-harm and bringing harm to your child. This is one of the most prominent and easily recognized symptoms of Postpartum Depression.
  • Disrupted patterns of eating and sleeping. Depression causes disrupted patterns of eating and sleeping, such as increased or decreased appetite, and an increased desire to or need for sleep.
  • Persistent despair, without discernible cause. A mother who has experienced loss will feel pain and despair, and may not be experiencing Postpartum Depression, but may instead be experiencing grief. Conversely, a mother who has not experienced loss following birth and feels pain and despair may be experiencing a symptom of Postpartum Depression.

If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, and is available 24/7.

Although there are more symptoms related to Postpartum Depression, answering positively to any of the points above could indicate the need to connect with a mental health professional. Because getting out of the house with a newborn can be difficult, there are online talk therapy platforms, such as BetterHelp, designed to make getting support easier for individuals in need of intervention from the comfort and safety of home. If you’re ready to speak with a mental health professional about depression, life with a baby, or any other mental health concerns, BetterHelp is an affordable, convenient option.

Treating Postpartum Depression

If your answers to a postpartum depression test indicate that treatment is encouraged, there are several options. Postpartum Depression is often treated using a two-pronged approach but may even be a 3-pronged approach. Therapy is typically recommended for a woman coping with Postpartum Depression. The precise duration and frequency with which therapy is administered will usually depend on the severity of the mental health problem. Medication is often also recommended for individuals with postpartum depression, to help manage the symptoms, and create greater freedom for new parents striving to create a safe, healthy home environment. In addition to utilizing the help of a doctor or other medical professional who can prescribe medication, some therapists may enlist the services of practitioners who can implement dietary and lifestyle changes to support healing.

Many women feel uncomfortable relying on their partners or other adults to support them and care for their child; but coping with mental health concerns while caring for a baby can make any woman feel overwhelmed.

Note that other, more intense forms of Postpartum Depression, such as Postpartum Psychosis, will require more significant treatment and intervention. Although they only make up about 1% of new mothers, Postpartum Psychosis can develop and is essentially a more aggravated form of the disorder. Nevertheless, postpartum conditions are considered highly treatable and typically abate within a year of the date of birth. Whether you are experiencing mild symptoms or severe symptoms, the onset of Postpartum Depression symptoms can make new mothers feel frightened, isolated, and broken.

If you match any of the descriptors listed above or fear the way that you feel or think, do not hesitate to reach out for help. You can speak to a therapist for advice and support or find treatment facilities through the Treatment Services Locator page, available on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s section of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services site. No matter how you feel today, you can get the treatment you need to free yourself of the symptoms of depression.

Questions People Commonly Ask On This Topic:

What is a positive EPDS score?

The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is a test that measures the likelihood that a person has postpartum depression. The test has a maximum score of 30. Each box within every question corresponds to a different score. For example, if the answer to question 4—"I have been anxious or worried for no good reason”—is “No, not at all,” the score for that answer is a 0. If the answer is “Hardly ever” it is a 1, “Yes, sometimes” is a 2, and “Yes, very often” is a 3. The combination of all the scores based on the answers provided gives you the total score. According to the scale (Cox, J.L.; Holden, J.M.; Sagovsky, R; British Journal of Psychiatry, 1987), women are at risk of depression if they score a 13 or above, and a score of 10 or above describes “possible depression.”

What is a high depression score?

A high depression score depends on the specific test that was taken. For example, a score of 13 or above on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is considered high enough for depression to potentially be present. On other scales, however, this score describes a person who is likely not living with depression. It’s often necessary to bring your results to a mental health professional who can interpret the test properly.

A depression screening can help you determine whether you need to seek treatment. These tests are usually confidential and will typically be covered by health insurance. You can also find free depression tests online (though these should not be used to self-diagnose).

If you receive a high score on a depression scale, there are many treatment options available. You can contact a mental health professional or seek out treatment facilities. To find treatment facilities near you, contact your primary care physician or conduct a search on the Treatment Services Locator page, available on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s site.

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