How Many Women Get Postpartum Depression? The Statistics on PPD

postpartum depression statisticsQuick, guess which number is higher: the number of people who sprain an ankle each year, the number of people who have a stroke, or the number of women who experience postpartum depression?

PPD. Surprised?

In so many books, articles and news programs, you hear the statistic — approximately 10 to 15% of women suffer from postpartum mood disorders (PPMDs), including postpartum depression (PPD), postpartum anxiety/OCD and postpartum psychosis. What bothers me about that statistic is that it holds no meaning for most people, and because of that I think these illnesses get much less funding and attention than so many of the other prevalent illnesses that strike Americans. As a result, I decided to do a bit of quick, non-scientific research to look at the real numbers and to help people understand the real impact that postpartum depression is having on the women of our country.

There were approximately 4.3 million live births in the United States in 2007. This statistic does not include fetal losses, including miscarriages and stillbirths. The National Vital Statistics Report indicates that the total number of clinically recognized pregnancies is around 6.4 million. This is important to know, because all postpartum women are susceptible to postpartum depression, regardless of the pregnancy’s outcome.

So let’s split the difference between the high (20%) and low estimates of PPD (11%) and say that an average of 15% of all postpartum women in the US suffer, as the CDC reported in its 2008 PRAMS research. And let’s use the number of clinically recognized pregnancies and not live births. This would mean that each year approximately 950,000 women are suffering postpartum depression.

BUT, did you know the CDC’s research only reflected self-reported cases of postpartum depression? How many women do you think did not mention they had PPD out of fear or shame? Should we increase the estimate of sufferers to 17% or 20%?

ALSO, these numbers don’t take into account women who may have suffered other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like PPOCD or postpartum psychosis. Should that make the numbers go even higher?

I’d argue that the average number of new mothers who experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders is more likely in the 20% range, which would mean around 1.3 million annually.

How does that compare with the incidence among women of other major diseases in America?

In fact, more mothers will suffer from postpartum depression and related illnesses this year than the combined number of new cases for both sexes of tuberculosis, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy. This is not to minimize these other terrible diseases, of course. I simply want to illustrate just how prevalent postpartum mood & anxiety disorders are.

Dr. Ruta Nonacs of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School adds, “Postpartum depression is far more common than gestational diabetes. All women receiving prenatal care are screened for diabetes, but how many pregnant and postpartum women are screened for depression? PPD is also more common than preterm labor, low birth weight, pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure; in other words, PPD is the most common complication associated with pregnancy and childbirth.”

Let me leave you with one last thought: More moms will suffer from PPD than men will be diagnosed with new cases of impotence (approx. 600,000) this year. Yet you wouldn’t know it, considering the overabundance of erectile dysfunction (ED) ads and people falling all over themselves to discuss ED openly. Why doesn’t PPD get the same attention from pharmaceutical companies?

Why doesn’t society work as hard to eliminate the stigma of PPD? Why aren’t more corporations and foundations concerned about PPD and supporting awareness campaigns?

This really is a big problem, and deserves much more attention than it’s getting.

Photo credit: ©Andres Rodriguez – Fotolia

About Katherine Stone

is the founder of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the top 20 Social Media Moms by Working Mother magazine. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

Tell Us What You Think


  1. interested says:

    Great post Katherine! Wish there were answers to these questions.

  2. Sandy Wolkoff says:

    Thanks for your research. There are other statistics that you need to pay attention to. From studies done through the Federal Early Head Start programs and the National Center for Children in Poverty, teen mothers, poor and single mothers, mothers with history of violence, trauma and abuse, are at great risk for perinatal mood disorders. When these women are surveyed, the numbers jump to over 40% and in some data from the Early Head Start Studies, fathers reported rates of depression as high as around 18%.
    In a study done about 10 years ago through the Maternity Center Association, not only did 20% of the women in a survey of 1600 or so mothers who had babies within the previous 24 months report report depression, these women were likely to go into a subsequent pregnancy depressed as well.
    While there are differences between those mothers that self report and those that are given clinical surveys or interviews, the bottom line is that parental mental health, and especially PPD and other perinatal mood disorders demand our attention—for the sake of the mothers, families, and their babies.
    Sandy Wolkoff, LCSW
    Diane Goldberg Maternal Depression Program
    Manhasset, New York

  3. Thank you for this. I came across your post while I was doing some research for a post of my own, and I included a link back to it. I heard a very sad story this morning of a mother who reports feeling no bond or connection with her tiny infant, and my sadness over this story inspired me to write my own account.

  4. I am trying to finish up an argumenative editorial for my college english class on this subject and stumbled across your website. I suffered from PPD. Before my daughter was born I looked over all of the literature in the folder we recieved at the hospital and saw quite a few on PPD. I remember thinking wow they are really starting to try and look out for this more. Then I went home and actually experienced PPD, even gathered the courage to ask my OB for help twice. Each time I was told that I may be experiencing only baby blues it was normal and I should give it a little more time to let my hormone levels go back to normal and then if I still didn't feel "right" we'd talk about it again. If it weren't for my observant husband and his psychiatrist friend there is no telling what could have happened. It is so incredibly sad that a disease that effects so many gets virtually no support.

  5. I applaud your article. I also read that NICU moms have a 40% risk of developing PPD. 40%!! You'd think that I was given this number when my preemie was discharged but no, somehow it's all about the baby and mommy should just be thankful she can bring a baby home. Like life after the NICU is all teddy bears. I find it downright criminal to not let a new mom know she's at a higher risk of having PPD. Fortunately, my OB/GYN practive takes PPD VERY seriously and I was able to get help within the hour I made the desperate call.

  6. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Yes. NICU moms are at high risk. And as Sandy mentioned above, moms in poverty are at a higher risk.
    I'm so sorry you weren't aware of this, but glad that your OB was informed and ready to help!

  7. Katherine Stone/Post says:


  8. Chills, Katherine. I got chills reading this. Why ISN'T there a ribbon for us? A mandatory screening? ANYTHING?
    You kick azz.

  9. Just popping back to give you the address for the post I wrote.
    Thank you again for the information.

  10. Here's one reason why women with postpartum depression are discouraged from seeking help: if they do so, they can enjoy a huge increase in their health insurance rates, or even be dropped from their insurance plans entirely — even if they only have a single appointment.

  11. I remember my mom told me that if I talk to my dr about the possibility of ppd that my baby will get taken away.


  1. […] directions but I am taking the “AWARENESS” path on this one. Awareness that roughly 1 in 8 women will experience postpartum depression. And it is estimated that only 15% of these women will get help. The rest suffer in silence […]

  2. […] else though, until a year later when a friend of mine called and said, straight to the point, “I'm taking a survey on postpartum depression.  My mother in law says it doesn't exist, but I can't sleep, am mentally paralyzed and don't eat […]

  3. […]; Postpartum Progress […]

  4. […] Postpartum mental illness (postpartum mood disorders) is real and it affects as many as 950,000 women annually […]

  5. […] Miriam- not some nameless ‘other’- Miriam was like us. I’m not shocked by this event- horrified, yes- but not shocked. Many women suffer from a PMAD during their first year postpartum (or whenever breastfeeding ceases) that causes them to be different than their true selves. Most of us don’t suffer as badly as Miriam did. And she could have been me. She could have been you or your wife or your daughter or your sister. Because Miriam isn’t some sort of monster that rose from the depths- she’s the one of the 950,000 women who suffer from a postpartum mood disorder EACH YEAR. […]

  6. […] statistics are staggering, this article from a great resource on PPD -Postpartum Progress sheds light on the […]

  7. […] babies back-to-back, move across the country, and leave your career and child-free life behind. Postpartum depression rates are higher than the conventional statistics imply. The pressure to breastfeed makes any perceived […]

  8. […] While I know that these percentages might not seem very high, in an article written by Katherine Stone at Postpartum Progress, she applies these statistics to the number of clinically recognized pregnancies in 2007. With their being around 6.4 million recognizable pregnancies (that number including live births as well as miscarriages and still births) that would mean that 950,000 women reported experiencing some type of mood disorder that year. (You can read the entire article here.) […]

  9. […] mothers either, with upwards of 20% suffering from postpartum mood disorders. Katherine Stone of Post Partum Progress Inc. reports […]

  10. […] The statistics on postpartum depression are startling to say the least. If you think you are experiencing PPD, […]

  11. […] depression—a condition too often lightly referred to as the “baby blues” that up to 20% of new mothers undergo—is marked by symptoms like guilt, sadness, exhaustion, apathy, and sleep […]

  12. […] depression, regardless of the pregnancy outcome,” according to Katherine Stone’s post How Many Women Get Postpartum Depression at her blog Postpartum Progress. Katherine goes on to report that, “There were approximately 4.3 […]

  13. […] which I’ve failed to understand why.  Each year approximately 950,000 women are suffering postpartum depression, so please know that you are not […]

  14. […] a nonprofit dedicated to supporting women with perinatal mood disorders, estimates that around 1.3 million women experience perinatal mood disorders and anxiety each year. That’s more than the number of women who will face diabetes, stroke or breast […]

  15. […] try to consider the data. Numbers don’t lie. The vast, VAST, SUPERVAST majority of moms with perinatal mood or anxiety disorders never end up […]

  16. […] Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy,†writes Katherine Stone in this piece on Postpartum […]

  17. […] Wladimir Klitschko, last December. Since then, Panettiere has publicly detailed her battle with postpartum depression, a disorder that strikes 15% of new mothers in the United […]

  18. […] Wladimir Klitschko — last December. Since then, Panettiere has publicly detailed her battle with postpartum depression, a disorder that strikes 15% of new mothers in the United States.During an interview on Live! with […]

  19. […] How Many Women Get Postpartum Depression? The Statistics … – Quick, guess which number is higher: the number of people who sprain an ankle each year, the number of people who have a stroke, or the number of women who … […]

  20. […] depression—a condition too often lightly referred to as the “baby blues” that up to 20% of new mothers undergo—is marked by symptoms like guilt, sadness, exhaustion, apathy, and sleep […]

  21. […] How Many Women Get Postpartum … – About Katherine Stone. Katherine Stone is the creator of this blog, and the founder and executive director of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a … […]

  22. […] post-partum mood disorders (PPMD), among the postpartum indicators continues to rise along with an estimated prevalence of 10%-15%. however the grave consequences of PPMD continue to be well at the spine of our […]

  23. […] a problem, but that’s a different rabbit hole…), but nothing like this.  For a lot of new moms, depression, bipolar disorder, OCD and other mental nastiness are part of the postpartum […]

  24. […] statistics regarding just how many women struggle with postpartum depression can be difficult to pin…, the fact is that many women suffer in silence. Postpartum depression can often […]

  25. […] they’ll answer that it was the day they became a mother. But not me. And I’m certainly not alone. Approximately 10-15% of women suffer from some type of postpartum mood disorder. And it […]

  26. […] depression is a serious, debilitating illness that affects approximately 10-20% of women. This statistic, though, is a measure of women who were able to identify what they were going […]

  27. […] Rates of depression, on the other hand, were lower: 4 percent of pregnant women and nearly 5 percent of postpartum mothers were found to be depressed. Nichole Fairbrother, an assistant professor of psychiatry with the University of British Columbia and an author on the study, told The Huffington Post she believes those numbers are likely low and limited by the study’s small sample size. (Other estimates put the rates of PPD among women in the United States at closer to 15 percent of postpartum women.) […]

  28. […] that you aren’t alone. There are more individuals who experience postpartum depression each year than who sprain an ankle in that same year. As postpartum mental health becomes more […]

  29. […] to Postpartum Progress, about 20% of new mothers or 1.3 million individuals each year will suffer from a postpartum mood […]