Why do I lose my temper and cry easily after giving birth?

Some women experience emotional changes after giving birth, such as having unstable emotions, getting weepy, not sleeping well and having fidgets.

There are three main types of emotional problems after giving birth:

  1. Postpartum blues

    On average, nearly half of the women after giving birth feel moody, the symptoms include mood swings, getting weepy, sleeplessness and irritability, but usually they will return to normal within a few days.

  2. Postpartum Depression

    Around 10% of women may develop postpartum depression after giving birth, the symptoms include:

    • persistent depression
    • fatigue, fidgets
    • anxiety or panic attacks
    • feeling helpless or in despair
    • feeling like being punished
    • sleeplessness or waking up early
    • loss of appetite
    • headache, shoulder pain, backache or abdominal pain etc.
  3. Postpartum Psychosis

    There are three apparent characteristics of postpartum psychosis, they are:

    • hallucination of hearing voices
    • bizarre thoughts of being harmed by others
    • Thoughts of suicide, harming or killing her baby

This is a quite rare but serious mental condition that affects about 1 to 2 in every thousand new mothers. It is an acute psychiatric illness and requires immediate referral to a psychiatrist or attendance to the Accident and Emergency Department for further management.

What can I do if I suspect myself / my relatives having postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression is treatable. In case of doubt, it is important to seek assistance from professionals such as health care practitioners, social workers or psychologists immediately. Treatments include psychological counseling, with or without supplementary drug therapy. With the care and support of family members and friends, most of the mothers who suffer from postpartum depression can recover and return to normal life after receiving treatment.

From whom can I seek assistance if I suspect myself / my relatives suffering from postpartum depression?

You may seek assistance from your family doctor or the Maternal & Child Health Centres of the Department of Health. Women with suspected postpartum psychosis should be referred immediately to a psychiatrist or the Accident and Emergency Department.

Other units that provide counselling service include:

  • Social Welfare Department Hotline (24 hours) 2343 2255
  • Hospital Authority Mental Health Hotline (24 hours) 2466 7350
  • The Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong 2389 2222