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Recognizing Postpartum Depression and When to Get Help

While a woman experiences a lot of joy along with being a new mom, postpartum depression may be a very real emotion she struggles with behind-the-scenes. It’s important that mothers understand that recognizing postpartum depression and seeking help isn’t a character flaw or weakness. With immediate help from a healthcare provider, new mothers will be able to better manage symptoms and enjoy motherhood.

“Postpartum depression” vs. “postpartum baby blues”

“Postpartum baby blues” lasts a few days to a few weeks after giving birth. It consists of crying, mood swings, anxiety, irritability, trouble sleeping, change in appetite, sadness, and problems concentrating. A more severe and prolonged form of feeling down is described as “postpartum depression.”

Postpartum depression has more severe symptoms that interfere with daily life. The symptoms are the same as those of the “baby blues” butare intensified.

Recognizing postpartum depression symptoms

A woman should get as much information on postpartum depression from her doctor as she can. Asking questions about what’s normal to feel and what isn’t will help in knowing if postpartum depression is actually present. A recent University of California, San Francisco, study reports that 10 to 20 percent of women suffer from new-onset depression during pregnancy or after giving birth.

Furthermore, the study says, women suffering postpartum depression frequently don’t receive treatment even when a diagnosis is made. The impact of untreated depression can be profound, says the study, ranging from substance abuse, poor prenatal care, miscarriages, impaired infant bonding and developmental delays.

Here are the symptoms of postpartum depression. If you are experiencing any of them please talk to your doctor about it.

Extreme mood swings and depression
Excessive crying
Excessive sleeping
Trouble bonding with your baby
Acute anxiety and panic attacks
Feelings of guilt, shame, worthlessness or inadequacy as a mother
Suicidal thoughts
Thoughts of injuring your baby or yourself
Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Loss or increase of appetite
Inability to think clearly or concentrate
Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
Withdrawal from family and friends

Identifying “postpartum psychosis”

Postpartum psychosis is very serious, and is even more severe than postpartum depression. This condition develops within the first week or two after delivery and is unrelenting.

The symptoms for postpartum psychosis need to be addressed urgently. Symptoms of postpartum psychosis include:

Confusion and disorientation
Paranoia
Hallucinations
Obsessive and unhealthy thoughts about your baby
Attempts to harm your baby or yourself
Sleep disturbances

Getting help for postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis

If symptoms of postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis don’t stop after two weeks, get worse, affects how a mother cares for her baby, or if it becomes difficult to perform everyday tasks, help must be sought without delay. Changes in mood following pregnancy can be serious and mothers shouldn’t feel guilty or embarrassed about their feelings.

The Doctors at Pacific Women’s Center understand this can be a sensitive topic with new mothers and want to help. Call us to get treatment today because every mother deserves to enjoy life with her new baby!