You've been preparing for the last several months for the arrival of your new baby. The nursery is ready. You have everything you will need in order to care for the new baby. Delivery went well and you and baby have returned home from the hospital, but something just doesn’t seem right. You don't feel happy or excited about being a new mom. Instead you feel sad, anxious and irritable.
Fast forward a few weeks after delivery. If feelings of sadness, being overwhelmed, and anxiety seem to be more significant and you are experiencing any of the symptoms in the list below, seek medical treatment. Postpartum depression (PPD) is more severe that the “Baby Blues” and lasts much longer than two weeks. Lack of proper treatment can make it difficult for you to care for your baby, keep you from doing every day activities, and may cause you to feel like you are a danger to your baby, yourself or others. If your symptoms do not improve after two to three weeks, contact your doctor, a psychotherapist, or another medical provider.
You are at increased risk of developing PPD if you have a history of depression, bipolar disorder, had depression following a previous pregnancy, family history of depression, have experienced significant stress during pregnancy, the baby has any health problems, you have problems with breast feeding, problems in your relationship with your spouse or significant other, you have lack of a support system, financial problems, or the pregnancy was unplanned.
Depression is treatable. Early intervention with talk therapy and medication is best. With that being said, remember to seek help as soon as you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression. Keep track of your symptoms so you can give a report of the time line when you see your health care provider. Also, keep in mind that sometimes you may not see these symptoms worsen in yourself; ask your loved ones look out for you as well.
Additional symptoms of postpartum depression:
- depressed mood or severe mood swings
- excessive crying
- difficulty bonding with baby
- withdrawing from family and friends
- loss of appetite or eating much more
- insomnia or sleeping too much
- overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- loss of interest in activities you found enjoyable
- intense irritability
- fear you are not a good mom
- feelings of worthlessness
- diminished ability to think clearly
- make decisions
- severe anxiety
- panic attacks
- thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- recurrent thoughts of suicide or death