Peripartum mood disturbances physical examination

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Sunita Kumawat, M.B.B.S[2]


There are no physical exam findings that are particular to major depressive illness; rather, the diagnosis is made primarily on the patient's history and mental state evaluation. However, a comprehensive mental health examination should always include a medical examination to rule out any biological diseases that may be mistaken for depression.

Physical Examination

The majority of individuals with severe depressive illness seem normal.[1] A reduction in grooming and cleanliness, as well as a shift in weight, can be seen in individuals with more severe symptoms. Psychomotor retardation may appears as a slowing or lack of spontaneous movement and responsiveness, as well as a flattening or loss of reactivity in the patient's emotional expression. Some individuals with major depressive illness have psychomotor agitation or restlessness. Speech might be normal or sluggish, monotonous, or devoid of spontaneity and substance. Disordered speech should trigger an evaluation for psychosis whereas pressured speech suggest mania or anxiety. Hypomania, mania or anxiety all come with racing thoughts.


  1. Kamperman AM, Veldman-Hoek MJ, Wesseloo R, Robertson Blackmore E, Bergink V (September 2017). "Phenotypical characteristics of postpartum psychosis: A clinical cohort study". Bipolar Disord. 19 (6): 450–457. doi:10.1111/bdi.12523. PMID 28699248.

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