Recognizing Postpartum Depression


Postpartum depression is a possible complication of giving birth, not a weakness of character. It is similar to the “baby blues” many moms experience after delivery, but postpartum depression symptoms are more severe.

The baby blues can last up to 14 days and symptoms include mild or moderate mood swings, anxiety,
irritability, crying, and insomnia.

If you come down with the baby blues, talk to your physician should you have thoughts of harming the baby, or if symptoms continue beyond a couple of weeks.

Signs of Postpartum Depression

What distinguishes postpartum depression from baby blues is the intensity and duration of symptoms. If you experience depressive symptoms that prevent you from providing good infant care, call your doctor right away.

Emotional Symptoms

  • intense anger or irritability
  • the absence of joy
  • feeling inadequate, guilty, or shameful
  • mood swings

Physical Symptoms

  • reduced appetite
  • problems sleeping
  • extreme fatigue
  • lack of interest in physical intimacy

Thought and Behavioral Symptoms

  • withdrawing from friends and family
  • finding it difficult to bond with the baby
  • thoughts of harming the baby or yourself

Symptoms of Psychosis

Many women with postpartum depression do not experience psychotic symptoms, but you should be aware of the signs.

  • delusions (believing what is not true, or could not possibly be true)
  • hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or smelling what others do not)
  • feeling paranoid
  • confusion or disorientation
  • an attempt to harm the baby or yourself

Risk Factors for Postpartum Depression

A woman can develop postpartum depression after the birth of any of her children. You are at higher risk if you had depressive symptoms after a previous delivery, or have a history of depression unrelated to childbearing. Women with bipolar disorder have a higher risk of developing psychosis.

Six risk factors

  1. The year prior to delivery is very stressful because of financial worries, pregnancy complications, a death in the family, or other difficult situation
  2. Your pregnancy was not planned or is unwanted
  3. You have financial difficulties
  4. You have an inadequate support system
  5. Relationship difficulties with your partner
  6. History of depression, postpartum depression, or bipolar disorder

Protect Yourself

After the baby comes home, make sure to stay active and eat well. If you cannot meet your high expectations for motherhood, lower them and ask for help.

Even when you are fatigued, withdrawing from friends and family is not a good idea. Let those who care about you know how you’re feeling. Also, find ways to take mommy breaks and relax, do things you enjoy, or spend time with your partner.

Source: Mayo Clinic


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