Birth can bring out a host of emotions. These range from joy and excitement to anxiety and fear. It can also cause postpartum depression, which you may not anticipate.
Postpartum blues is a common experience for new mothers. These include mood swings and crying spells as well as anxiety and trouble sleeping. The baby blues usually start within two to three days of delivery and can last up to two weeks.
Some moms may experience postpartum depression, a severe and long-lasting type of depression. A rare form of extreme mood disorder, postpartum psychosis, may also develop after childbirth.
Postpartum depression does not make you weak or have a personality flaw. Sometimes, it is simply an unfortunate side effect of having children. Postpartum depression can be managed quickly with prompt treatment. This will help you bond and strengthen your relationship with your baby.
Signs of Postpartum Depression
There are many signs and symptoms that can indicate depression after childbirth, they can be mild or severe.
Baby blues symptoms
Baby blues can be characterized by the following signs and symptoms:
- Mood swings
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Concentration reduced
- Problems with appetite
- Trouble sleeping
Postpartum depression symptoms
Although it is easy to mistake postpartum depression for baby blues, the symptoms and signs are more severe and last longer and can eventually affect your ability and ability to care for your baby as well as other daily tasks. Symptoms typically appear within the first few weeks of giving birth. However, they can also develop during pregnancy or up to one year after giving birth.
Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression may include:
- Depression or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- It can be difficult to bond with your baby
- Resigning from your family and friends
- A loss of appetite or an inability to eat as much as usual
- Inability to fall asleep (insomnia), or excessive sleeping.
- Fatigue or energy loss due to overwhelming circumstances
- You have lost interest in the activities that you once enjoyed.
- Anger and intense irritability
- Fear of being a bad mother
- Feelings like worthlessness, shame or guilt
- Reduced ability to concentrate, think clearly and make decisions
- Panic attacks and severe anxiety
- You may think about harming your baby or yourself.
- Suicide or death thoughts are a constant thought
These symptoms can last many months if it is not treated.
Postpartum psychosis is a rare condition in which symptoms can be severe. It usually develops within one week of delivery. These signs and symptoms could include:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Obsessive thoughts about you baby
- Hallucinations, delusions
- Sleep disturbances
- Excessive energy, agitation
- Do not attempt to harm your baby or yourself.
Psychosis postpartum can lead to dangerous thoughts and behaviors. It requires immediate treatment.
New fathers experience postpartum depression
Postpartum depression can also affect new fathers. Mothers with postpartum depression may also experience sadness, fatigue, anxiety, changes in eating and sleeping habits, as well as feeling overwhelmed.
Postpartum depression is more common in fathers who are younger, have a history or struggle with money, and are also likely to be depressed. Paternal postpartum Depression, also known as paternal depression, can affect the child’s development and partner relationships in the same way that postpartum depression in mothers can.
Talk to your doctor if you are a father who is experiencing depression or anxiety. Fathers can benefit from the same treatments and support that mothers receive after giving birth to postpartum depression.
When should you see a doctor?
You may feel embarrassed or hesitant to tell your doctor if you are feeling down after the birth of your baby. If you feel depressed after having a baby, or if you have any other symptoms postpartum, contact your doctor to schedule an appointment. Get help immediately if you experience symptoms that may indicate you might have postpartum psychosis.
If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms, it is important to contact your doctor immediately.
- Don’t fade after two weeks
- Are getting worse
- Do not make it difficult for yourself to take care of your baby
- It can be difficult to complete daily tasks
- Do not think of harming your baby or yourself.
You should immediately seek the help of your partner or family members if you think of harming your baby and these options are also available if you have suicidal thoughts.
- Get help from your primary physician or another health care professional.
- Contact a mental health professional.
- Contact a suicide hotline. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use their webchat on suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.
- Reach out to a friend or family member.
- Reach out to a minister, spiritual leader, or another member of your faith community.
Supporting a friend or loved-one
Depression can be difficult to recognize and acknowledge for some people. People with depression may not recognize the signs and symptoms. You should immediately seek medical attention if you suspect that your friend or loved one is suffering from postpartum depression. Do not wait to see if there is any improvement.
Although there is no one cause for postpartum depression (or any other type of depression), emotional and physical issues can play a part.
- Physical changes. Postpartum depression may be caused by a drastic drop in hormones (estrogen, progesterone) within your body. Your thyroid gland may also produce other hormones that can cause you to feel tired, sluggish, and depressed.
- Emotional problems. You may struggle to deal with even minor issues if you are sleep-deprived or overwhelmed, and also it is possible to be anxious about caring for a newborn. You might feel less attractive, feel less confident or lose control of your life. Postpartum depression can be caused by any of these factors.
Postpartum depression can affect any mother, and can occur after the birth of any baby. Your risk of developing postpartum depression is increased if you:
- If you have had a history of depression during pregnancy or elsewhere.
- Bipolar disorder is something you have.
- You had postpartum depression after a previous pregnancy
- There are family members with depression or other mood disorders.
- In the last year, you’ve had to deal with stressful events such as job loss, pregnancy complications, illness, or sickness.
- If your baby has special health needs or is suffering from other medical problems
- Twins, triplets, or another multiple birth are possible
- Breast-feeding is difficult for you
- Relationship problems with your spouse/significant other
- A weak support system is a problem
- Financial problems are a problem
- If you did not plan for the pregnancy.
If left untreated, postpartum Depression can cause problems in the home and family.
- For mothers. If you don’t treat postpartum depression it can often last months, or even become a chronic disorder. Postpartum depression can lead to more episodes of major depression in women even if it is treated.
- For fathers. Depression after childbirth can cause emotional strain for all those who are close to the baby, and the risk of depression in the father of a baby who is a mother to a newborn may increase if he or she is feeling depressed. New dads are at higher risk of depression regardless of whether their partner is also affected.
- For children. Children whose mothers have not treated postpartum depression are more likely have emotional and behavioral issues, such as sleep and eating problems, crying excessively, and delayed language development.
Do you have a history or depression, especially postpartum depression? Tell your doctor if there are any plans to become pregnant.
- Your doctor may monitor you for depression signs and symptoms during pregnancy. Your doctor may ask you to complete a depression screening questionnaire before and after your delivery. Support groups, counseling and other therapies can sometimes be used to manage mild depression. Antidepressants might be recommended in other situations, even during pregnancy.
- Your doctor might recommend an early postpartum exam to check for signs and symptoms, early detection is better than waiting for treatment. Also your doctor might recommend psychotherapy or antidepressant treatment immediately following delivery if you have had postpartum depression in the past.