Signs of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum baby blues and postpartum depression are related but differ in terms of severity and duration. It is not uncommon for women to experience either after giving birth and one need not feel ashamed to discuss it with your doctor. Physical changes that occur after childbirth can cause a dramatic decrease in hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, and may contribute to postpartum depression. It is important to note that postpartum depression may occur even if it is not your first childbirth.
The risk of postpartum depression can increase with the following risk factors:
- you have a history of depression, postpartum or not
- you have bipolar disorder
- you’ve endured extreme stress within the past year
- your pregnancy had complications or your baby has health problems or special needs
- you have difficulty breast-feeding
- financial issues or weak support system
- unwanted or unplanned pregnancy
Postpartum depression affects mothers as well as the rest of the family. Left untreated postpartum depression can last for months and can even develop into chronic depression. New fathers are at further risk for depression if the mother experiences postpartum depression that is left untreated and children are more likely to have emotional or behavioral problems. The key to helping yourself and your family is to recognize the symptoms and seek treatment for postpartum depression.
The symptoms of postpartum baby blues tend to only last a few days or a couple of weeks max after your baby is born. These symptoms include mood swings, feeling overwhelmed, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and sadness. If these problems worsen or don’t go away, it may be a sign of postpartum depression. The symptoms of postpartum depression interfere with a mother’s ability to care for their new baby or deal with other daily tasks. Symptoms typically develop within the first few weeks of childbirth but may appear as late as 6 months after birth.
Postpartum depressions symptoms include:
- depressed mood
- severe mood swings
- crying excessively
- having a hard time bonding with your baby
- withdrawal from family and friends and activities/hobbies
- extreme changes in appetite (eating much less or much more than usual)
- insomnia or oversleeping
- fatigue or energy loss
- irritability and anger that lasts
- fear and self-doubt about your parenting abilities
- feelings of shame, guilt, or uselessness
- difficulty concentrating, thinking clearly, or making decisions
- anxiety and panic attacks that are severe
- suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming your baby
Untreated, postpartum depression can last for months and months. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to consult with a doctor.