Depression is not a rare disease. About one in ten women experience depression during pregnancy and about two in ten experience depression after delivery. Men can also suffer from psychological distress or depression during the pregnancy or after the baby is born.

When a person is suffering from depression they usually experience sadness or a general loss of interest and overall pleasure in daily activities. They can also show some of the following signs:

  • A decrease or increase in appetite or weight
  • Trouble sleeping (sleeping too much or difficulty sleeping)
  • Agitation or psychomotor impairment (e.g., slowed speech)
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt (e.g., the impression of not being a good parent or not being able to establish an emotional bond with the baby)
  • Difficulty concentrating or indecisiveness
  • Thoughts of death or suicidal ideas

Some of these signs can be confused with normal changes that occur after childbirth (e.g., fatigue).

Men may have the same symptoms as women but express their distress differently. For example, they may be more aggressive or irritable, have mood swings, and feel physical discomfort such as stomach aches, headaches, or difficulty breathing. Some men may also exhibit hyperactive behaviour (devoting many hours to escaping into work or sports) or excess consumption of alcohol or drugs.

Unlike the baby blues, which is temporary, the changes in behaviour and mood associated with depression are present almost every day for at least two weeks.