The days, weeks and months following the birth of your baby can be a wave of emotional ups and downs. All of this excitement in meeting and getting to know your newborn can take priority over your postpartum health. Many women are often so inundated with late-nights, feedings, doctor’s appointments, diapers and more, they don’t necessarily realize their own health is in need of attention.
Postpartum depression, also (incorrectly) called the “baby blues,” affects 9-16% of women after giving birth, according to the American Psychological Association. The term “baby blues” can actually be misleading since most women experience mood swings after giving birth, but when mood swings are severe and long-lasting, it is time to seek the advice of your physician.
Before visiting your doctor to discuss possible postpartum depression, please review the following questions.
What are my symptoms?
Symptoms of the common “baby blues”, which many women experience after birth can include: mood swings, sadness, anxiety, irritability, frequent crying, difficulty concentrating and poor sleep.
Postpartum depression symptoms, on the other hand, are more severe, and can include all of the “baby blues” symptoms plus: insomnia, fatigue, loss of or decreased appetite, loss of sex drive, severe mood swings, difficulty bonding with your baby, intense feelings of shame or guilt, quickness to anger and irritability, and withdrawal from routine activities as well as family and friends. Thoughts of causing harm to yourself or your baby may also appear.
How long have I had these symptoms?
It’s essential for women to see a doctor if they find that their symptoms continue for more than two weeks, if they are getting worse, if routine activities are interrupted or if thoughts of causing harm to yourself or your baby are present.
How do I feel?
Fortunately, postpartum depression and its symptoms are becoming increasingly well known. Decades ago, the symptoms of postpartum depression were just something women were expected to deal with or get over within a few weeks of giving birth. Now, doctors are aware that the condition can range in severity from woman to woman and that serious symptoms need to be tended to with support and treatment. If you find that you don’t feel like yourself, and that symptoms have become overwhelming, it’s time to contact your doctor.
Postpartum depression is nothing to gloss over or feel weak about—it is a legitimate condition that affects many women who are able to return to their everyday routines with treatment and support. If you think you may have symptoms of postpartum depression, we strongly advise that you contact your physician as soon as possible.