Women's Health Services | Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression

"Baby Blues"

The transition to parenthood is referred to as a normal “life crisis.” Life will never be quite the same again! You will redefine who you are (a mother or father), and you will find that you are expected to put your baby’s needs before your own. It sometimes feels as though caring for a totally dependent infant is a heavy burden. It is common to feel that life is over and all that’s left is feeding, changing and soothing an infant.

If you have other children at home, you may feel sad that they have to wait for attention and that you have less time for them, the baby, your husband or partner and yourself.

The depth of your feelings may be related in part to the enormous hormonal changes that occur after birth, or to fatigue and pain of incisions, swollen breasts or sore nipples. It also may be related to the support you have at home, your feelings about your childbirth experience and the individual needs of your baby.

What to Expect
It is normal at first to feel exhilarated, even “wired,” and to have a difficult time resting or sleeping. You may find yourself reliving the birth experience.

Once you are at home, the enormity of the 24-hour a day responsibility of caring for a baby who knows nothing about day or night sets in. You may feel overwhelmed, not really knowing what it is that your baby needs, and find you are more irritable than usual or cry easily. These feelings are called the “Baby Blues.”

“Baby Blues” occur in 50 to 80 percent of new mothers. They usually start on the second or third day after birth and last no more than 10 days.


  • Accept the help of those around you, for baby care, food preparation and housework.
  • Nap when your baby naps to avoid fatigue.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression (PPD) occurs in about 10 percent of new mothers. PPD can occur anytime in the first year after birth. Women with PPD often feel inadequate, hopeless and unable to cope with everyday life. Other symptoms include:

  • Having great fears about their baby’s health or their own.
  • Headaches, chest pains, panic attacks, inability to sleep and loss of appetite (or overeating).
  • Feeling irritable, anxious, not wanting to be with people or fear of being alone.

Perinatal Moods Disorder Program Women at risk for postpartum depression include those who have, or have had the following:

  • History of previous depression
  • Depression during pregnancy
  • Anxiety during pregnancy
  • Lack of social support
  • Dissatisfaction with partner
  • Life stress (recent loss, change)
  • Child care stress
  • Low self-esteem
  • Fussy, irritable baby


  • If these symptoms occur frequently enough to cause you to be unable to care for baby and/or yourself or last longer than a week, call your health care provider.
  • If you have PPD, you can be helped to get well with medication and counseling. The most important step is to take your symptoms seriously and ask for help.
  • The Peripartum Mood Disorders Program at The Institute of Living is here for you and your family. Whether you are a mother or father in need of support, or a family member feeling that something is just not right, please contact your physician or call 860.545.7104 for help. 


The Clinical Trials Unit at the Burlingame Research Center at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living is researching an alternative treatment option for women with postpartum depression called Trans-cranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). This study is open to women aged 18 to 50 who have given birth within the past 6 months and that want to try an alternative treatment for depression instead of an antidepressant. Click here for more information or please contact:

Phone: 860.545.7502
Email: clinical.trials@hhchealth.org


If you need help dealing with postpartum blues or depression, the following resources can help:

Postpartum Support Information

  • Postpartum Support International (PSI)
    Postpartum Support International (PSI) provides direct peer support to families, trains professionals, and provides a bridge to connect them”. Use current address and phone number. To locate Connecticut PSI Coordinators, go to www.postpartum.net.
  • Postpartum Support International - Connecticut Chapter
    Support Groups for perinatal mothers are an important part our emotional, psychological and social needs as pregnant and postnatal women. A perinatal support group may be available in your community. A listing of support groups is available through the CT Chapter of Postpartum Support International at www.psictchapter.com.
  • Mood Disorders Program at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living
    The Mood Disorders Program is a unique consultation and treatment program where we can assess, evaluate, and treat people with a variety of treatment-resistant mood disorders including post-partum depression and premenstrual syndrome.
    Phone: 860.545.7015

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