burnout and postnatal depression, mama disrupt

How to tell the difference between burnout and postnatal depression

In Features, Mind Health, Stories by Nicole Fuge

Burnout and postnatal depression (PND) are two different conditions that can occur after having a baby. While some of the symptoms can feel very similar, here is how to tell the difference.

By Charlotte Cruz

As mamas, we experience an onslaught of emotional changes and challenges that we were not prepared for. Some that can leave us feeling really confused, right?

Because being a mum can be tough, and it’s important to know that it’s not uncommon to experience feelings of exhaustion, frustration, and overwhelm.

These feelings can be a sign of motherhood burnout. Which is caused by the demands of caring for a newborn or young child. Think of it like hitting a wall – you’ve been running on empty for so long, that you’re just burnt out.

On the other hand, postnatal depression (PND) is a mental health condition that is caused by hormonal changes in the body. It can make you feel sad, hopeless, and worthless. PND can feel like a heavy weight is literally weighing you down mentally.

While motherhood burnout and PND share some similar symptoms, there are some key differences.

So if you’ve been feeling not yourself lately. And wondering whether you’re experiencing motherhood burnout or postnatal depression. Here are some things you should know.

Either way, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or are experiencing symptoms of PND, reach out to a healthcare professional for help. It’s important to take care of yourself so that you can be the best mum you can be for your little one [and you deserve to feel good, too].

burnout and postnatal depression, mama disrupt


Motherhood burnout is often caused by the demands of caring for your child or children. Things like the sleepless nights and the lack of support from family and friends, and feelings of overwhelm [largely thanks to the mental load]. While PND is caused by hormonal changes after childbirth.


Motherhood burnout is often characterised by feelings of exhaustion, overwhelm, and frustration. Whereas PND is characterised by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, and worthlessness. You may also notice changes in appetite, sleep, and energy levels.

morning sickness, mama disrupt


Motherhood burnout can occur at any time during motherhood. But PND specifically occurs in the weeks and months after childbirth.

And burnout often focuses on the demands of caring for a child and the impact it has on your wellbeing. PND on the other hand is a mental health condition that can impact all areas of life and relationships.


If you’re suffering from burnout, you can often treat it with rest, self-care, and support from family and friends. Whereas mamas with PND may need professional treatment, such as therapy or medication.

If you are experiencing symptoms of burnout or postnatal depression, it’s important to seek help from a healthcare professional. There are amazing resources out there via Cope, PANDA or Beyond Blue, or speak to your GP.