The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (In Plain Mama English)

postpartum depression anxiety

Perhaps you’ve seen a list of symptoms on other health websites, but I doubt you’ve seen one like this. We’re going to talk about the signs of postpartum depression and anxiety, but in “plain mama English”. We won’t use words like hypomania or dysthymia or suicidality or psychomotor agitation — the kind of terms you see elsewhere. We will use the words mom hear in their heads when they think about what the hell is happening … I know this will make sense to you.

This is the most favorite post of all time from the readers of Postpartum Progress. Just read:



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. Katherine,
    Thank you SO MUCH for this outstanding list. These are the words that women struggle to find when describing how the feel.

  2. This list is perfect. I nodded my way through the first list. Thank you so much for this.

  3. Audrey Gonzalez says:

    Hi my Name is Audrey I had My Baby Boy Angel by csection he is now three Months old I have been filling like I have totally gone "INSANE" LIke I should just check myself into a mental hospital. This depression is like being in a horrible nightmare and hope to wake up soon.I get mad at my family and boyfriend for no reason I get mad if someone just looks at me wrong.I dont even fill like myself when I look in the mirror its like someone else is looking back at me.Ive been on PAXIL & ZANEX for 2months but I fill like a ZOMBIE so I dropped my dose of Paxil to 10mg and I still fill down I just dont know what to do. I hope anyone who is going through what Im going through gets better soon GOODLUCK!!!!!!!!!!! AUDREY

    • Hi Audrey,
      Is it possible to get in touch with you as I am experiencing exactly the same feelings as you? My baby boy is 3 months old now …
      How long did your PPD last for? 🙁

  4. You couldn't have summed this up any better. It's got to be one of my favorite posts you've done. This is what women need to hear. This is what I needed to read in the weeks after I had my baby. Now I'm armed with information for the next time around, and what an incredible resource that I can share with friends and family from now on. THANK YOU.

  5. Alison Palmer says:

    This is definitely a "favorite" for me, too! I will be sharing this with patients and families. I love your ability to present evidence-based information to the reader so that it reflects so MUCH of what they are feeling and/or experiencing. Thank you for providing this connection to so many women, their loved ones, and to the healthcare providers who are guiding them in their journey to wellness.

  6. I talked to teenage mothers yesterday and struggled to find the words that would make postpartum depression more clear to them. I am going to pass this post along to their teacher. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  7. Excellent, excellent post. If I'd read this when I suffered from PPD, I would have felt A LOT better. Especially the part about not being alone and not being a freak.
    Thank you.

  8. Anxiety Therapy says:

    Hi, what a fantastic post! This is exactly what women need to read. My sister had PPD and it was terrible, I'm glad someone has put together something like this, it's important for mothers to know they're not alone. Thanks – Sue

  9. Thank you for posting the OCD part. I did and still do have some of these. No one recognized it. No one supported me. My husband just focused on the typical PPD (laying in bed, don't want to take care of the baby) and I was nothing like that. For seven months I was terrified that my son was going to die (we went through a lot with him so I possibly had traumatic birth and aftercare experience with his on and off illnesses). The week we brought our son home was the same week I immediatley wanted a divorce and we fight for 10 month now. On top of which, my mother has 1-3 months to live. I love my son more than anything in the world and that's why after 5 months of feeling the way I did, I reentered therapy (no meds). It has been going nowhere so I reached out further to get on meds. Very little psychiatrists will take insurance. Most are emotionally numb where you feel that they aren't the right ones. Most get horrible reviews that they are insensitive pill pushers. I went yesterday to one who did take my insurance and my hour assessment was a joke. She blew off my PPA/OCD feelings with "meh, you probably had PPD" and didn't want to discuss it further. I still feel a lot of the same symptoms. She prescribed Celexia. I could have picked this website and a drug and did my own assessment.
    My point is many of us are fully aware something wrong is going on and are desperate for help, support, and a cure and we're not getting it. So what do we do? The group supports are during work hours so I can't go. None of the therapists Im' seeing focuses on this. Finally, with all of the fighting I have a husband who is adding to the fear by saying he wants to fight me in a custody battle and take our son away from me. How is that going to help anything?
    This is a great blog with lots of info but it really is just words on the screen. Manuvering through the system and getting real, proper, and supportive care is extremely difficult to almost nowhere to be found. So what do we do then? Go through the guinea pig system of trying this therapist and that drug with no real answers or transition to get us better?
    I'm sorry for the anger but this has to go beyond info on the screen.

  10. My daughter is 18 months now, I had detachment issues from my first daughter who is 31 months. Is it still postpartum once your baby has passed the year mark?
    I think I might be this person… I stuck my foot thru a door while yelling at my husband from the sheer resentment of feeling unhelped. To help avoiding that on multiple occasions I would get in the car and drive to the beach just to stare at the water… to bring me back to normal.
    But then when my girls were 28 and 15 months consecutively, I broke my shoulder and have not been able to get up and the thoughts in my head don't ever stop non dramatic I just keep thinking of what to do, how much needs to get done, how come I am not doing more.
    This is such a weary subject anything is possible… but could this be me??

  11. Oh! yes ! great article you done; Anxiety and depression are both desasters for women in menopause but I 'don't think it doe's for pregnants

  12. I am feeling alot of these symptoms, but I have not had a baby.I am 19 years old and I had an ecropic pregnancy about 2 months ago, and I was not sure if that would still cause all these problems. I have thought about harming myself awhile back. I feel liek I have lost everyone. My boyfriend and I tend to get into fights and I just get mad. I don't want to be like this anymore. I can not afford any more medical help, because I am paying hospital bills, and college tuition and car payments. Is there anything else I can do to get my mind at ease and feel like the old me again?

  13. This is a great article.
    I would like to add a point on the psychosis advice: If you are sure that those things are real that Katherine describes and they are not "in your head," reach out anyway. There is no way for you to know the difference right now — those thoughts and visions are very real to you and you need help before you're really going to be able to evaluate them for yourself.

  14. Acupuncture Services says:

    I've being researching about Anxiety and reading your blog, I found your post very helpful 🙂 . I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog!

  15. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Great point Amanda. I agree.

  16. I was diagnosed with PP OCD in 2003 when my first born was 9 months old. I had been suffering from HORRIBLE intrusive thoughts, and had decided that I needed to leave my baby, my husband. I felt like I was going crazy, and that I was a horrible person, a horrible mother. After talking to my husband, my mother, and my family doc, I was put on meds which helped pretty quickly. I had to wait 3 months to see the PP Psych doc, and by that time I was feeling pretty "Normal". I only saw the psychiatrist two times, and she never told me about PP OCD, what it was, what the intrusive thoughts were, or how to manage it. I was just told to take my medication, and remember that I am not a horrible person. It worked for a while. I had a few bad weeks here and there in the next 2 years (when I tried to get off the medication)…and then after my 2nd child was born, I felt great. I felt better than great. And so for the past 5.5 years I have lived a fairly normal life, if I had any unwanted thoughts I had been able to ignore them…let them drift by. About 1 month ago I had a massive set back. I feel everything I did when my first born was a baby, the same thoughts are back, I am struggling with feeling like a horrible mother, with guilt, with the feeling like I need to leave them. I am finally trying to understand OCD, anxiety, etc. I am seeing a psychiatrist, and talking with friends and family. At this moment it feels so hard to get out of this dark place, I feel so scared and alone. But I just need to remind myself that I have gotten better before, and I will do it again. I have been searching for stories similar to mine, and found this website to be amazing. It helped me feel like I am not a monster and that I am not alone. I think it's important to note that if you don't get PROPER help right away, you can suffer from this for years, as I am learning now. Thank you for this amazing blog.

  17. I first started out with anxiety which then lead into depression and both of these lists describe many of my thoughts and symptoms exactly. Some of my family didn't know what my "problem" was and this would have been great to show them. I have e-mailed some of your info to those who doubted my "condition" to show that it is real and I am NOT an inadequate mother.

  18. It sounds as if you are in the Atlanta area.
    My daughter has been having a terrible time for the past 3 1/2 months and we are at wits end. Where did you finally receive treatment?

  19. Katherine Smith says:

    Fantastic list–I just completed a postpartum doula training, and these are a wonderful resource for new moms, much more effective than the clinical terms.
    One thing, you should mention in the article that it can be normal to feel some of these things every day in the first two weeks postpartum. But if it continues after the first two weeks, that is when it is moving towards PP depression/anxiety/OCD.
    Thanks so much!
    Katherine Smith

  20. Hello, I have identified with 2 of the symptoms…I’ve had scary thoughts, but after going to a psychologist they don’t bother me much anymore because I realize they are nonsense and I realize every action has consequences and that if I or anyone would act out the crazy thoughts it would bring no good at all for anyone and that I would really regret it if I did something bad and couldn’t reverse it…mostly what I feel lately is emotional numbness I know I love my daughter I know I love my husband and I should be enjoying it when I play with her but I it feels as if I have no emotions. Sometimes I occasionally feel sad and cry a lil but it don’t last long. I had a good pregnancy I did have gestational diabetes, but I have a 7 lb 11 oz daughter who was healthy & she’s on track for her age (5 months now) I don’t get why I feel this way it makes no sense to me. The first 6 weeks after delivery were great w/ a lil baby blues that went away in a week or two mostly consisted of me getting sad and crying when my husband would leave for work or when I was alone for a good portion of the day …..I don’t know if it is relevant or not but @ my 6 week check up I got the birth control implant nexoplanon and about 2-3 weeks later is when I started having scary thoughts like would I be capable of something horrible? how would I feel? So in March I had the implant taken out since it could have been a contributing factor….also I went from working 5 days a week about 7 hrs/day at my job to being a stay at home mom after i gave birth so idk if over time that affected me too??? Maybe the condition of our house ? This emotional numbness makes no sense to me because we planned to have a baby and were so happy to be pregnant…..I know I love my family I’m just feeling so numb emotionally it doesn’t make sense to me I think I’m going to see the psychologist again and see what she thinks…….. this numbness I have makes life seem so boring like bla

  21. My daughter just had her 2nd baby and is having huge anxiety issues. I’m terrified because we just lost my son 5 months ago to suicide. I am scared to death that she’s going to reach a point of no return.

    • Jenean, your daughter is lucky to have you watching over her. If she agrees, take her to the doctor as soon as you can to be evaluated for postpartum anxiety. It is 100% treatable and she will feel better again. Thinking of you!

  22. My wife had numerous issues after giving birth to our baby girl. This topic is still very distant for most men so it is good to have people who are prepared to share knowledge and enlighten. Ty for the article Katherine!

  23. Dylan Schemel says:

    My girlfriend just had our 2nd son 1 week ago. She was doing really good for the most part until yesterday. I came hoe

  24. Dylan Schemel says:

    Ok let me try again, My girlfriend just had our 2nd son 1 week ago. She was doing really good for the most part until yesterday. I came home from work (I was only able to be home with her and my 4 year old and our newborn son for 5 days) she had a bad day, she called me around 4 and didn’t know she called me. When I came home she didn’t want me to give her a kiss. So I just started cleaning the kitchen and playing with my 4 year old. She was not talking to me and acting like I disomething wrong but she didn’t want to talk to me. I thought that going to bed with my 4 year old would keep her with our newborn and give her time to rest. I went to bed and she came and left the baby with me, I started to worry because this is not like her, she is so loving to our kids and a wonderful mom. I assumed she just needed a little break. After about30min I went to the living room and she was crying sobbing type. I tried to talk to her but nothing so I hugged her a little until my 4 year old son started crying for me. So she told me to go and I did. She then came into the room and said she will never forgive me? I was like for what? (During pregnancy she seemed to hate me the whole time and all I did was work and cook and clean and try to make it as easy as possible for her) anyway I’m scared because I never have seen her like this and because she doesn’t express her emotions I’m worried it’s worse than it seems. I feel scared because I don’t know what to do. Thanks for this article because it made me understand ppd More. Im open for any advice that can help. Thanks!

    • Heather King says:


      It sounds like she needs help. It sounds like she may have started dealing with depression and/or anxiety during pregnancy and these first weeks of the postpartum period, it has worsened. I’m assuming that since she normally does not express things, she has been stuffing it, perhaps having some terrible thoughts that terrify her. I don’t know for sure, but she needs to go to a trusted professional. Is that possible? She may fight the idea, but if you can gently tell her that you are doing everything you can to help and she is not herself and she needs to trust you, she may open up. Many moms are terrified of the thoughts and feelings they are having and worry that if they say them out loud, their kids will be taken. I don’t know if that’s what is happening, but it could be. These thoughts are called Intrusive Thoughts and are not desires, they are just thoughts. They are born of anxiety and depression and sometimes come from Postpartum OCD. We are here to help. You can email me at if you would like to have a more private conversation.

      • Dylan Schemel says:

        Thank you so much 🙂 i will be in touch, she seems to be better today. I’m hoping it was just a bad day with maybe sleep deprivation. I will definitely email you if I have any more concerns.

  25. this list is so very important…i wish i knew about this place when i delivered my first one but definitely gonna follow the next time. Thanks for sharing this great content.


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