Impact of Postpartum Depression

Untreated postpartum depression (PPD) can have harmful, long-term effects on mothers, their babies, and their family members.1-15

Experiencing PPD can affect the entire family

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Mothers experiencing symptoms of PPD can face challenges with functioning and bonding with their babies, such as breastfeeding, feeling overwhelmed by child-care responsibilities, anxiety, loss of identity, and isolation from friends, family, and care providers.1-11

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Addressing symptoms of PPD early is essential; babies exposed to PPD within the first year after childbirth can be at higher risk of having long-term negative outcomes.12

One observational study with data from over 3600 participants showed that children of women with persistent and severe symptoms of PPD had12:

  • ~5 times the risk of behavioral problems at age 3.5
  • ~7.5 times the risk of depression at age 18
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Onset of depressive symptoms in the partner can be influenced by the presence of PPD symptoms13-16:

  • In a study of 157 couples, men whose partners have PPD have an estimated 2.5-fold higher risk of paternal depression16
  • 24%-50% of men whose partners have PPD experience paternal depression14*

*Estimates of paternal depression rates were aggregated across 20 research studies in community samples.

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Consider making universal screening a standard part of your practice

Learn more about using standardized, validated tools to screen for PPD symptoms.

  1. Posmontier B. Functional status outcomes in mothers with and without postpartum depression. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2008;53(4):310-318.
  2. Barkin JL, Wisner KL, Bromberger JT, Beach SR, Wisniewski SR. Factors associated with postpartum maternal functioning in women with positive screens for depression. J Womens Health. 2016;25(7):707-713.
  3. Da Costa D, Dritsa M, Rippen N, Lowensteyn I, Khalifé S. Health-related quality of life in postpartum depressed women. Arch Womens Ment Health (Larchmt). 2006;(9):95-102.
  4. Kerstis B, Aarts C, Tillman C, et al. Association between parental depressive symptoms and impaired bonding with the infant. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2016;19(1):87-94.
  5. Lilja G, Edhborg M, Nissen E. Depressive mood in women at childbirth predicts their mood and relationship with infant and partner during the first year postpartum. Scand J Caring Sci. 2012;26(2):245-253.
  6. Wouk K, Stuebe AM, Meltzer-Brody S. Postpartum mental health and breastfeeding practices: an analysis using the 2010-2011 pregnancy risk assessment monitoring system. Matern Child Health J. 2017;21(3):636-647.
  7. Gagliardi L, Petrozzi A, Rusconi F. Symptoms of maternal depression immediately after delivery predict unsuccessful breast feeding. Arch Dis Child. 2012;97(4):355-357.
  8. Beck CT, Indman P. The many faces of postpartum depression. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2005;34(5):569-576.
  9. Hendrick V, Altshuler L, Strouse T, Grosser S. Postpartum and nonpartum depression: differences in presentation and response to pharmacologic treatment. Depress Anxiety. 2000;11(2):66-72.
  10. Seymour-Smith M, Cruwys T, Haslam SA, Brodribb W. Loss of group memberships predicts depression in postpartum mothers. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2017;52(2):201-210.
  11. Santos HP Jr, Kossakowski JJ, Schwartz TA, Beeber L, Fried EI. Longitudinal network structure of depression symptoms and self-efficacy in low-income mothers. PLoS One. 2018;13(1):e0191675.
  12. Netsi E, Pearson RM, Murray L, Cooper P, Craske MG, Stein A. Association of persistent and severe postnatal depression with child outcomes. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018;75(3):247-253.
  13. Vismara L, Rolle L, Agostini F, et al. Perinatal parenting stress, anxiety, and depression outcomes in first-time mothers and fathers: a 3- to 6-months postpartum follow-up study. Front Psychol. 2016;7:938.
  14. Goodman JH. Paternal postpartum depression, its relationship to maternal postpartum depression, and implications for family health. J Adv Nurs. 2004;45(1):26-35.
  15. Kim P, Swain JE. Sad dads: paternal postpartum depression. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2007;4(2):35-47.
  16. Matthey S, Barnett B, Ungerer J, Waters B. Paternal and maternal depressed mood during the transition to parenthood. J Affect Disord. 2000;60(2):75-85.