Postpartum Mood Disorders: Symptoms

If you find you are suffering from any of the following it is important for your health and that of your whole family that you seek appropriate help.  That may be simply talking to a trusted friend, doula or doctor or it may mean finding a therapist that can help you work through your postpartum journey.  Postpartum mood disorders happen to more women than report it and there is nothing to be ashamed about.  It takes a village to raise a healthy family!


Printable List of PPMD Symptoms



  • Feelings of despair/hopelessness

  • Crying, tearfulness

  • Anger and irritability

  • Sleep disturbances (too much/little)

  • Loss of energy and interest

  • Physical symptoms (clumsiness, slowed speech, etc.)

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Frightening thoughts about self or baby or other family members

  • Weight loss or gain

  • Feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy

  • Hypochondria; excessive worries

Mania (part of bipolar disorders)

  • Feel great/high energy

  • Irritability

  • Decreased need for sleep/insomnia

  • Feeling “speedy”

  • Easily Distracted

  • Mind racing; cannot shut thoughts off

  • Pressured, fast speech


  • Muscle tension; chest pain

  • Shortness of breath; choking sensation

  • Hot/cold flashes

  • Tingling hand/feet

  • Agitation/restless

  • Fear of dying

  • Fear of going crazy

  • Faintness

  • Irritability

  • Anger/rage

  • Fear of being alone; fears of baby's health; agoraphobia

  • Feeling trapped, immobilizing guilt

  • Racing heartbeat

  • Hyperventilating

  • Nausea/vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Dizziness


  • Recurring, persistent and disturbing thoughts, ideas or images (scary images of accidents, abuse, harm to baby)

  • Ritual behaviours done to avoid harming baby (e.g., put away knives) or to create protection for baby (e.g., only wear white, don't ;eave the house) constantly checking the baby, house, etc.

  • Intrusive thoughts, fears and images

  • Person cannot control thoughts

  • Person understands that to act on these thoughts would be wrong

  • Hyper vigilant (e.g., can't sleep for fear that something will happen to baby; constant “fight or flight” mode)

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

(usually occurs quickly after birth)

  • Previous trauma (recent or in the past- abuse, accident, etc.)

  • Feeling of anxiety when exposed to situations similar to the trauma

  • Sensations of “being in the trauma” now

  • Emotional numbing/detachment

Psychosis (very rare)*

  • Paranoia

  • Delusions (about baby)

  • Hallucinations

  • Irrational thoughts

  • Impulsivity

  • Refusal to eat

  • Poor judgement

  • Lack decision-making

  • Break in reality

  • Severe insomnia

  • Confusion

  • Higher risk if bipolar disorder in self or family

  • Missing moral compass



*Requires immediate treatment often including hospitalization and medication


Source: DONA International Postpartum Doula Workshop Manual 2013