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Symptoms - Postnatal depression

Common symptoms of postnatal depression

The main symptoms include:

  • feeling sad, low in mood or tearful much of the time
  • feeling agitated or irritable towards your partner, baby or other children
  • loss of interest in the world around you and no longer enjoying things that used to give you pleasure (like you "cannot be bothered")
  • lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
  • trouble sleeping at night – you may be awake even when your baby is sleeping
  • feeling very sleepy during the day
  • problems concentrating and making decisions
  • loss of appetite or overeating (comfort eating)
  • negative thoughts such as feeling you are not a good enough mother, you are unable to look after your baby or your baby does not love you
  • feelings of guilt, hopelessness and self-blame
  • feeling anxious that something bad may happen to your baby
  • problems bonding with your baby, no sense of enjoyment in being with them


If you think you may be depressed talk to a GP, midwife or health visitor as soon as possible so you can access the support you need.

Urgent advice: Contact a GP, or call 111, immediately if:

  • you have frightening thoughts about hurting your baby (these can be scary, but people with these kinds of thoughts rarely harm their baby)
  • you are thinking about suicide and self-harm
  • you develop unusual beliefs (delusions) or have hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that are not real, like hearing voices)

Immediate action required: Call 999 if:

  • you think there's a danger of immediate harm to yourself or others

Do not struggle on alone and hope the problem will go away. It can continue for months or years or get worse if nothing is done. Depression is treatable and you can get better with the right help.

Fathers and partners can also become depressed after the birth of a baby. You should get help if this is affecting you.

Read more about treating postnatal depression

Spotting the signs in others

Postnatal depression can develop gradually and be hard to recognise. Some parents may avoid talking to family and friends about how they're feeling because they worry they'll be judged for not coping or not appearing happy.

Signs for partners, family and friends to look out for in new parents include:

  • frequently crying for no obvious reason
  • having difficulty bonding with their baby, looking after them only as a duty and not wanting to play with them
  • withdrawing from contact with other people
  • speaking negatively all the time and saying that they're hopeless
  • neglecting themselves, such as not washing or changing their clothes
  • losing their sense of humour
  • constantly worrying that something is wrong with their baby, regardless of reassurance

If you think someone you know is depressed, encourage them to talk about their feelings to you, a friend, their GP or their health visitor.

Related conditions

As well as postnatal depression, a number of other mental health conditions can also develop after giving birth (as well as during pregnancy).

These include:

Speak to a GP or health visitor if you or someone you know may have developed a mental health condition.

Page last reviewed: 4 August 2022
Next review due: 4 August 2025