After having a baby, many women have mood swings. One minute they feel happy, the next minute they start to cry. They may feel a little depressed, have a hard time concentrating, lose their appetite, or find that they can't sleep well even when the baby is asleep. These symptoms usually start about 3 to 4 days after delivery and may last several days. Called the baby blues, this is considered a normal part of early motherhood and usually goes away within 10 days after delivery. The symptoms are not severe and do not need treatment. This is not the same as having postpartum depression.
The symptoms of postpartum depression affect your quality of life and include:
- Feeling sad or down often
- Frequent crying or tearfulness
- Feeling restless, irritable, or anxious
- Loss of interest or pleasure in life
- Loss of appetite
- Less energy and motivation to do things
- Difficulty sleeping, including trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, or sleeping more than usual
- Feeling worthless, hopeless, or guilty
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Feeling like life isn't worth living
- Showing little interest in your baby
The symptoms of postpartum depression last longer and are more severe than normal baby blues. Very rarely, new mothers develop something even more serious. They may have hallucinations or try to hurt themselves or the baby. They need to get treatment right away, often in the hospital.
Postpartum depression can begin anytime within the first year after childbirth. The cause is not known. Hormonal and physical changes after birth and the stress of caring for a new baby may play a role.
Postpartum depression is more likely if you have had any of the following:
- Previous postpartum depression
- Depression not related to pregnancy
- Severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- A difficult or very stressful marriage or relationship
- Few family members or friends to talk to or depend on
Stressful life events during pregnancy or after childbirth (such as severe illness during pregnancy, premature birth, or a difficult delivery)
Postpartum depression is treated much like any other depression. Support, counseling and medicines can all help.
If you have concerns about depression before, during, or after pregnancy, talk with Dr. Strebel or Dr. Grolle about what treatments are available and best for you.