Postpartum depression: what to look for

Postpartum Depression, know the signs

Postpartum Depression, know the signs

Once you’ve had your baby and come home from the hospital, it’s easy to think that you’ll just slide back into regular life, but that’s not always the case. There is certainly a period of adjustment after adding a baby to your family, whether it’s your first or fifth. While this adjustment is normal, there are some times when the feelings of depression are more severe and possibly even dangerous. Here are some things to look out for as you return to your routine after childbirth.

There are varying degrees of depression a woman may experience after having a baby.  The mildest of which is often referred to as the baby blues. This usually happens within the first couple of weeks of coming home with your baby and generally only lasts “a few days to a week or two,” according to the Mayo Clinic.  The symptoms you may experience when dealing with the baby blues include:

Mood swings
Anxiety
Sadness
Irritability
Crying
Decreased concentration
Trouble sleeping

If you notice that your symptoms are more severe and last longer than a couple of weeks, you may be suffering from postpartum depression. This condition may actually interfere with your ability to take care of your baby or handle your other daily responsibilities. Postpartum depression may surface anytime in the first year after childbirth and according to the Mayo Clinic when left untreated “may last for many months or longer.” In addition to the symptoms associated with the baby blues, you may experience some of the following with postpartum depression:

Changes in your appetite
Feeling withdrawn or unconnected from family and friends
Lack of pleasure or interest in activities you normally enjoy
Loss of ability to concentrate
Decrease in energy
Problems doing regular tasks at home or work
Substantial anxiety
Trouble sleeping/Insomnia
Intense irritability, anger and mood swings
Loss of interest in sex
Feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy
Difficulty bonding with your baby
Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

The most severe, and potentially dangerous, form of depression you may encounter after childbirth is known as postpartum psychosis and is “a rare condition that typically develops within the first two weeks after delivery,” according to the Mayo Clinic. The symptoms of postpartum psychosis are:

Confusion and disorientation
Hallucinations and delusions
Paranoia
Attempts to harm yourself or your baby

While the specific cause of postpartum depression is unknown, a number of factors may contribute to the condition including hormonal imbalance, history of depression and external stresses such as family problems, finances and health issues. There are things your doctor can do to treat your postpartum depression, including prescription medications and therapy.  So, if you notice yourself feeling any of these things, be sure to talk to your doctor about it right away, especially if you start feeling the urge to hurt yourself or your baby.

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About Sarah Brimhall

Sarah Brimhall is a blogger for Liquid Health, Inc. She graduated from Wartburg College in 2002 with a degree in Communications and has worked for Liquid Health, Inc. for 9 years. As a mother of three, Sarah is particularly interested in learning how to live a healthy lifestyle and helping her family to do the same.