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Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is depression that may start during pregnancy or at any time up to a year after the birth of a child.

Depression is a mental illness that affects a person’s mood — the way a person feels. Mood impacts the way people think about themselves, relate to others, and interact with the world around them. This is more than a ‘bad day’ or ‘feeling blue.’ Without supports and treatment, depression can last for a long time.

A mother or father with postpartum depression may not enjoy the baby and have frequent thoughts that they’re a bad parent. They may also have scary thoughts around harming themselves or their baby. Although it’s rare for a parent to make plans to act on these thoughts, this situation is serious and requires urgent medical care. If you believe that a loved one is in danger, don’t hesitate to call 911 or your local crisis line.

Postpartum depression can affect anyone. Although it’s more commonly reported by mothers, it can affect any new parents–both moms and dads– and it can affect parents who adopt. Postpartum depression is likely caused by many different factors that work together, including family history, biology, personality, life experiences, and the environment. 

Counselling and Support
  • A type of counselling called cognitive-behavioural therapy is a common treatment for postpartum depression. It may be the first treatment to try for mild or moderate symptoms. Cognitive-behavioural therapy teaches you how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours work together. Another type of counselling called interpersonal psychotherapy may also help. It focuses on relationships and can help people adjust to changing roles in their relationships. 
Support Groups

Support groups are also very important. Postpartum depression and new parenthood can both isolate you from others, and isolation can add to feelings of depression. Support groups are a safe place to share your experiences, learn from others, and connect with other parents who have similar experiences and understand what you’re going through. 


It may be helpful to recruit loved ones or see what services may be available so you can take some time for your own needs. Regular exercise can boost your mood and help you manage stress. Eating well and sleeping as much as you can are also very helpful. And it’s always important to spend time on activities you enjoy, find relaxation strategies that work for you, and spend time with people who make you feel good. 
  • Medication 
Medications called antidepressants are used to treat depression. While many moms can safely use antidepressants while breastfeeding, it’s important to talk with your doctor about the possible risks and benefits. Medication can help with some symptoms, including sleep, appetite, and energy levels. However, medication can’t get rid of some of the thoughts or beliefs that can fuel depression. 

It’s important to know that postpartum depression is no one’s fault, but you can play a big role in a loved one’s recovery. 


Here are some tips on supporting a loved one who experiences postpartum depression: 

  • Make sure your own expectations of your loved one’s experiences and day-to-day abilities are realistic. 
  • Remember that every parent and child is unique and it’s not useful to compare two people or two families. 
  • Understand that people who experience postpartum depression may want to spend a lot of time alone.  
  • Offer help with daily responsibilities.  
  • Help with childcare (including overnight help for feedings), or help finding a childcare provider. Managing postpartum depression can take a lot of hard work. Recognize a loved one’s efforts regardless of the outcome. 
  • Talk to your doctor or public health nurse or accompany your loved one on appointments if you’re concerned. 
  • Seek support for yourself, if needed.