Being pregnant and having a baby creates a roller coaster of emotions. Regardless of how much you looked forward to giving birth, the process can be stressful. It’s perfectly normal for a woman to experience the baby blues, but if the baby blues persist beyond a few weeks or get worse you may be dealing with postpartum depression. Knowing the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression can help you get the treatment and support you need to feel like yourself again.
You have a new baby, what joy could be greater? But instead of celebrating with your friends and family you feel like breaking out in tears. Chances are you didn’t expect to feel weepy, exhausted and anxious after giving birth to your bundle of joy. However, mild depression and mood swings are common in new mothers. This syndrome is often referred to as the baby blues.
The vast majority of new moms experience the baby blues. It’s considered to be a normal part of motherhood. Obstetrician Shamsah Amersi explains that these mood swings are caused by the hormonal changes going on in the body just after giving birth. Once hormones level out, the baby blues typically subside without treatment or intervention.
However, postpartum depression is more serious than the baby blues and it can be hard to distinguish the difference between the two. Symptoms of postpartum depression may mirror the symptoms of the baby blues, but they are more severe. Symptoms may include crying, sadness, irritability, insomnia and mood swings. Mothers with postpartum depression may also feel suicidal and have difficulty caring for their baby. Postpartum depression usually sets in after childbirth and develops slowly over a period of months. However, it can come on suddenly in some women. In some cases it may not develop until months after giving birth.
Signs and Symptoms
- Loss of pleasure
- Reduced energy and motivation
- Feeling worthless
- Feeling guilty
- Changes in weight and appetite
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Lack of concern for yourself
- Worry that you will hurt your baby
- Negative feelings toward your baby
- Disinterest in your baby
There are also certain factors that put a person at a greater risk for developing postpartum depression. Katherine Stone explains that the following factors increase the likelihood you will develop postpartum depression:
- Experiences with infertility treatments
- Lack of support from family and friends
- Previous history of trauma
- Medical complications for you or your baby
- History of depression