Signs and Symptoms: Post-Partum Depression
Post-partum literally means “after childbirth”. In the days and months following the arrival of a new baby a woman’s body has to adjust hormonally and physically back to “normal”. Women typically can continue to be emotional and experience a wide range of thoughts and feelings from joy to worry as they acclimate to the new demands and responsibilities of motherhood. This is common to all new mothers, and it is important to give yourself and your body time to adjust especially in the first couple months when you may be sleep deprived. These feelings will fade soon and generally do not require treatment.
However, for some women, feelings of deep sadness and anxiety grow, linger and can become overwhelming. Post-partum depression can be moderate to severe, even to the point of being unable to care for the newborn, and symptoms can appear soon after the delivery or anytime up to a year after. The causes can vary but here are some signs and symptoms to watch for in yourself or a loved one:
- Changes in appetite and/or trouble sleeping
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Very agitated
- Withdrawing or Disconnecting
- Lack of interest in activities
- Loss of concentration and energy
- Difficulty completing tasks – at home or on the job
- Severe anxiety
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Inability to care for baby
- Afraid to be alone with baby
- Negative feelings toward the baby – even thinking about doing harm
- Either intense worry of the baby or having little interest in the baby.
If any of these have lasted longer than two weeks or have become more intense for you or a loved one, please contact your healthcare provider right away. Treatment varies depending on symptoms, but if left untreated postpartum depression can last for months or years and could result in harm to you or the baby.