Postpartum Depression | Symptoms of depression after childbirth | NextMamas.
The birth of a baby can start a variety of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. But it can also result in something you might not expect — depression. Most new moms experience postpartum "baby blues" after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues usually begin within the first 2 to 3 days after delivery and may last for up to two weeks. But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression. Sometimes it's called peripartum depression because it can start during
pregnancy and continue after childbirth. Rarely, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth. Postpartum depression is not a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it's simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms and help you bond with your baby.
Symptoms of depression after childbirth vary, and they can range from mild to severe.
Baby blues symptoms
Symptoms of baby blues — which last only a few days to a week or two after your baby is born — may include:
- Mood swings.
- Feeling overwhelmed.
- Reduced concentration.
- Appetite problems.
- Trouble sleeping.
Postpartum depression symptoms
Postpartum depression may be mistaken for baby blues at first — but the symptoms are more intense and last longer. These may eventually interfere with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth. But they may begin earlier — during pregnancy — or later — up to a year after birth. Postpartum depression symptoms may include:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings.
- Crying too much.
- Difficulty bonding with your baby.
- Withdrawing from family and friends.
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual.
- Inability to sleep, called insomnia, or sleeping too much.
- Overwhelming tiredness or loss of energy.
- Less interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy.
- Intense irritability and anger.
- Fear that you're not a good mother.
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy.
- Reduced ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions.
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks.
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide.
Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer..
- Feeling confused and lost.
- Having obsessive thoughts about your baby.
- Hallucinating and having delusions.
- Having sleep problems.
- Having too much energy and feeling upset.
- Feeling paranoid.
- Making attempts to harm yourself or your baby.
Postpartum psychosis may lead to life-threatening thoughts or behaviors and requires immediate treatment.
Postpartum depression in the other parent
Studies show that new fathers can experience postpartum depression, too. They may feel sad, tired, overwhelmed, anxious, or have changes in their usual eating and sleeping patterns. These are the same symptoms that mothers with postpartum depression experience. Fathers who are young, have a history of depression, experience relationship problems or are struggling financially are most at risk of postpartum depression. Postpartum depression in fathers — sometimes called paternal postpartum depression — can have the same negative effect on partner relationships and child development as postpartum depression in mothers can. If you're a partner of a new mother and are having symptoms of depression or anxiety during your partner's pregnancy or after your child's birth, talk to your health care provider. Similar treatments and supports provided to mothers with postpartum depression can help treat postpartum depression in the other parent.
When to see a doctor
If you're feeling depressed after your baby's birth, you may be reluctant or embarrassed to admit it. But if you experience any symptoms of postpartum baby blues or postpartum depression, call your primary health care provider or your obstetrician or gynecologist and schedule an appointment. If you have symptoms that suggest you may have postpartum psychosis, get help
It's important to call your provider as soon as possible if the symptoms of depression have any of these features:
- Don't fade after two weeks.
- Are getting worse.
- Make it hard for you to care for your baby.
- Make it hard to complete everyday tasks.
- Include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
If you have suicidal thoughts
If at any point you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, immediately seek help from your partner or loved ones in taking care of your baby.
Author: Dr. Iram Gill
Dr. Iram Gill is an MBBS doctor by profession and a Content Writer by passion. She is a mother as well and has observed the health-related challenges faced by mothers and babies. She wants to play her part in increasing access and support for breastfeeding and maternal health problems.