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What Are The Signs Of Postpartum Depression

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Postpartum Depression Quiz: Signs & Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression

How to recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression

As part of our efforts to raise awareness for mothers and mental health, we have created this postpartum depression quiz.

For a new mother and father, having a baby is a joyous occasion that brings a lot of emotions that include joy, bliss, and awe. These are all positive emotions for new parents, but for mothers the experience of childbirth may include the emotions of feeling sad. This is known as the baby blues. The baby blues are attributed to the hormonal changes in a womans body after giving birth. This is normal and typically lasts for two weeks after childbirth.

As a new father, like me, you may be surprised that the baby blues are part of a womens experience in recovering from giving birth. As I learned about this, I realized how important it is to be helpful as much as possible to help my wife get through the baby blue stage.

At home with the kids?

But, what if the baby blues dont go away after two weeks? If the baby blues havent subsided after two weeks or so, then as a father and a husband you should start looking for signs of postpartum depression. I recommend taking the postpartum depression quiz at the end of this post.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

New mothers may not recognize this as postpartum depression, so it is important that a father know how to help a new mother postpartum by looking for the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and by taking the postpartum depression quiz. The following are symptoms of postpartum depression:

When Should A New Mom Seek Professional Medical Treatment For Symptoms Related To Postpartum Depression

A new mom should seek professional help when:

  • Symptoms persist beyond two weeks.
  • She is unable to function normally she cant cope with everyday situations.
  • She has thoughts of harming herself or her baby.
  • She is feeling extremely anxious, scared, and panicked most of the day.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/01/2018.


Treatment For Postpartum Psychosis

In the unlikely event that the symptoms rise to the level of postpartum psychosis, treatment is much more aggressive and usually requires hospitalization. Medications used include antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and benzodiazepines. In some cases, typically when other treatments have not been effective, electroconvulsive therapy helps control symptoms.

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Symptoms Of Obsession Panic And Trauma

Women with severe cases of postpartum depression may experience a combination of obsessive, anxious and traumatic behaviors.

These extreme symptoms may include:

  • Extreme and debilitating anxiety and agitation
  • Recurring panic attacks that include shortness of breath, chest tightening and heart palpitations
  • Fears of dying, losing control or going crazy
  • Displaying repetitive obsessions such as bathing the baby and changing his/her clothes
  • Intrusive thoughts of harming or killing the baby
  • Feeling horrified and embarrassed by these thoughts

The woman is aware of her thoughts and behaviors with all types of postpartum depression except postpartum psychosis. Therefore, her acting upon harming or killing the baby is very unlikely.

The presence of these specific symptoms can help doctors diagnose which type of postpartum depression the mother is experiencing. Awareness of the details and patterns of postpartum depression symptoms will help mothers seek appropriate treatment.

Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression

1 Main symptoms of postpartum depression

Symptoms of postpartum depression are often similar to those of major depression, but they occur close to the time of birth, and unlike the less severe symptoms of postpartum blues, they dont go away quickly.

The most common symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Feelings of extreme sadness, pessimism, or emotional disengagement
  • Feelings of anxiety or fear without a specific cause
  • Irritability
  • Agitation and extreme restlessness
  • Compulsion to harm the baby or yourself

Postpartum psychosis is much more dangerous than postpartum depression, and a mother who experiences these symptoms should seek professional help immediately.

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Practice Deep Breathing Exercises

Who would have thought. We grow from children into mature, responsible adults that practically forget how to breathe properly.

None of us can do enough preparing for motherhood. When it comes, you just have to learn during each new season of you and babys life. Motherhood can become so demanding that we become obsessed with holding up the supermom image. It can actually be so stressful that we forget to breath. Not kidding!

Dont believe me? The next time your stress level is high, stop and examine how youre taking in each breath, mama.

Proper breathing has so many benefits to your mental and physical health. It will help deliver oxygen throughout your body as well as reduce your stress levels while improving your mood and feelings!

Can Ppd Affect Your Baby

Yes. PPD can make it hard for you to care for yourself and your baby. This is why its important to treat PPD as soon as possible. If PPD is untreated:

  • You may skip your postpartum checkups and not follow instructions from your health care provider.
  • You may find it hard to bond with your baby.
  • Your baby may not breastfeed long. PPD may make it hard for you and your baby to get used to breastfeeding. Breast milk is the best food for your baby through the first year of life.
  • Your baby may not get medical care he needs. PPD may make it hard for you to take care of your baby if shes sick. You may not see health problems in your baby that need quick attention and care. It may be hard for you to get your baby regular well-baby care, like vaccinations. Vaccinations help protect your baby from harmful infections.
  • Your baby may have learning, behavior and development problems and mental health conditions later in life.

Getting treatment for PPD can help you feel better and be able to care for your baby. If you think you have PPD, tell your provider.

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How Is Postpartum Depression Prevented

Some women are especially at risk of developing postpartum depression. For example, women who have experienced the disorder at least once have about a 50% chance of experiencing it again during subsequent pregnancies. Women who have experienced major depression outside of pregnancy also seem to be at increased risk some research suggests that women who have experienced depression generally have between a 30% and 50% chance of experiencing depressive episodes during pregnancy or soon after giving birth.

Somepreventative treatments have shown promise in preventing the onset of the disorder in women at risk.

  • Preventative medication. One study looked at the effectiveness of prophylactic treatment with SSRI antidepressants in women with a history of postpartum depression. The study results suggested that the treatment was effective at preventing a recurrence of the disorder.
  • Behavioral techniques. A therapeutic process called Practical Resources for Effective Postpartum Parenting has also shown preventative promise. The approach encourages behaviors that help the mother get rest, decrease the babys fussiness, and strengthen the bond between mother and child.

Postpartum Depression Aka Perinatal Depression

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Though most people still call this condition postpartum depression, the medical world has changed its name to perinatal depression. The name change is only important because its confusing if you search online for information. Some websites still use postpartum depression, while others have switched to perinatal depression.

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Frequently Asked Questions Expand All

  • What are the baby blues?

    About 23 days after childbirth, some women begin to feel depressed, anxious, and upset. They may feel angry with the new baby, their partners, or their other children. They also may:

  • Cry for no clear reason

  • Have trouble sleeping, eating, and making choices

  • Question whether they can handle caring for a baby

These feelings, often called the baby blues, may come and go in the first few days after childbirth.

  • How long do the baby blues usually last?

    The baby blues usually get better within a few days or 12 weeks without any treatment.

  • What is postpartum depression?

    Women with postpartum depression have intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, or despair that prevent them from being able to do their daily tasks.

  • When does postpartum depression occur?

    Postpartum depression can occur up to 1 year after having a baby, but it most commonly starts about 13 weeks after childbirth.

  • What causes postpartum depression?

    Postpartum depression probably is caused by a combination of factors. These factors include the following:

  • Changes in hormone levelsLevels of estrogen and progesterone decrease sharply in the hours after childbirth. These changes may trigger depression in the same way that smaller changes in hormone levels trigger mood swings and tension before menstrual periods.

  • National Womens Health Information Center

  • Talking To Your Health Care Provider About Your Mental Health

    Communicating well with your doctor health care provider can improve your care and help you both make good choices about your health. Read our Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit. For additional resources, including questions to ask your doctor, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

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    Depression During And After Pregnancy Is Common And Treatable

    Recent CDC research shows that about 1 in 8 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression. Additionally, a recent analysis by CDCexternal icon found the rate of depression diagnoses at delivery is increasing and it was seven times higher in 2015 than in 2000.

    Having a baby is challenging and every woman deserves support. If you are experiencing emotional changes or think that you may be depressed, make an appointment to talk to your health care provider as soon as possible. Most people get better with treatment and getting help is the best thing you can do for you and your baby.

    Effective depression treatment can include a combination of medication therapy, counseling, and referrals. is talking to your health care provider. After your visit, make sure to follow-up on all referrals and treatment that he or she suggests. When discussing medications with your provider, let her or him know if you are pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant, or breastfeeding. You and your provider can decide if taking medicine while pregnant or breastfeeding is right for you. Read Medicine and Pregnancy for more information.

    If the situation is potentially life-threatening, call 911.

    If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention LifelineExternalexternal icon at 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential crisis counseling available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY: Dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255. Online chatExternalexternal icon is also available 24/7.

    What Can I Do To Help Myself

    Dealing with Postpartum Depression

    Youre the expert in your own mental health and wellbeing. Taking charge of your recovery and doing things that make you feel better, stronger and more in control will help your recovery from postnatal depression.When you have depression, it can be hard to find the energy or motivation to look after yourself.Start small return a text message, open a window, close your eyes and listen to the birds singing.Slowly build up to bigger things and try to notice what makes you feel better.Make a list of things that feel good and keep it on your phone, your diary or on the fridge. When youre struggling, check your list and pick one thing you can do right now that might help.

    These may include:

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    What Are The Signs Of Postpartum Depression

    A parent with postnatal depression will often start to experience symptoms within the first month of having a child. However, symptoms can develop any time in the first 12 months, e.g. after four or six months. Symptoms of depression may also develop during the pregnancy itself, before delivery. Signs of postpartum depression are generally present for more than two weeks.

    While they may vary from person to person, as well as differ in form and severity, some of the more common signs and symptoms of postnatal depression, like other types of depression, include:

    • Persistent low mood this may take the form of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness, irritability, frustration, anger, a feeling of being overwhelmed, or other negative emotions
    • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable, including sex
    • Strong feelings of guilt or worthlessness
    • Tiredness and lack of energy and motivation
    • Trouble concentrating and making decisions
    • Memory problems
    • Disrupted sleep patterns, including difficulty falling asleep or sleeping too much
    • Changes in appetite
    • Persistent headaches, other pains, or digestive trouble without a clear physical trigger

    It is important to keep in mind that some of the symptoms listed above, e.g. tiredness, disrupted sleep patterns and low sex drive, are normal after having a baby â and not necessarily indicators of PPD. If any symptoms are troubling you, try using the Ada app for a free assessment.

    Signs Of Postnatal Depression

    Postnatal depression can have a broad range of symptoms. These can vary in how severe they are.

    You may be feeling sad, anxious and alone. You may be feeling guilty, irritable and angry. You may be experiencing panic attacks. You may not enjoy being with people, even your baby.

    Other symptoms of postnatal depression include:

    • loss of appetite

    Feelings and thoughts you might experience include:

    • feeling inadequate
    • feeling rejected by your baby
    • worrying a lot about your baby

    Obsessive behaviour may be another sign of postnatal depression. You may have overwhelming fears, for example about your baby dying. Some mothers have recurring thoughts about harming their baby. Very few mothers ever act on this.

    Get help from your GP or public health nurse if these feelings or symptoms last for more than 2 weeks or if you have any thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

    Do not let worrying thoughts you may have about your baby stop you from seeking help. Effective treatment is available. The vast majority of women with postnatal depression are treated at home with their baby.

    Your family and friends may notice that you have postnatal depression before you do. If they mention this to you, take it seriously and seek help from your GP or public health nurse.

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    Risk Factors For Postpartum Depression

    The causes of PPD are not fully understood. Some articles in the media suggest that postpartum depression may be caused by hormonal changes after birth, but there is not sufficient evidence to support this idea. The strongest risk factors for developing postpartum depression are thought to include:

    • A personal or family history of mental health conditions, e.g. depression or bipolar disorder
    • Lack of social support, i.e. friends and family
    • A poor relationship with oneâs partner
    • Significant stress or major life events, e.g. death of a loved one or a major move, during or after the pregnancy

    Other risk factors may include:

    • The pregnancy being unplanned
    • Experiencing other health challenges during or after the pregnancy
    • Oneâs partner being depressed
    • Substance abuse

    Good to know: Parents who have twins or triplets are thought to be at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression, due to the increased challenges of caring for two or more babies at the same time.

    Postpartum Depression Timeline In Dads

    Health Tip Minute: Postpartum depression signs and symptoms

    Around 5 to 10 percent of fathers experience postpartum depression, according to a 2014 study published in the journal Pediatrics. It can be caused by sleep deprivation and many other factors”but obviously not by reproductive hormones, as it often does in women,” says Bennettand may result in anger, withdrawal, and feelings of overwhelm or neglect.

    “PPD is very relational in how it impacts couples,” says Brandon Eddy, Ph.D., marriage and family therapist and assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Research from the National Institutes of Health shows that men whose partners have PPD are more likely to suffer from PPD themselves, experiencing it at an increased rate of between 24 to 50 percent.

    The postpartum timeline for dads can be very similar to that of moms. “The first few weeks are a difficult adjustment for both parents, but if people find themselves still really struggling and depressed after that then they should seek treatment immediately,” says Dr. Eddy. “PPD is only going to get worse without treatment.”

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    What Causes Postpartum Depression

    The exact cause isnt known. Hormone levels change during pregnancy and right after childbirth. Those hormone changes may produce chemical changes in the brain. This plays a part in causing depression.

    Postpartum depression is more likely to occur if you have had any of the following:

    • Previous postpartum depression.
    • 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 .

    Common Symptoms Of Postpartum Baby Blues

    During the second and third weeks following pregnancy, it is common for women to experience postpartum baby blues.

    Symptoms of baby blues include:

    • Anxiety
    • Restlessness
    • Tiredness

    These are common feelings and do not necessarily indicate a more severe type of postpartum depression. Though they can be challenging, these feelings typically go away within a few weeks and mostly likely do not require treatment.

    In some cases, these milder baby blues symptoms do not fade and instead intensify or worsen within three to four weeks following pregnancy. This could be an indication of the more severe postpartum depression.

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    How Can Family And Friends Help

    It is important to understand that depression is a medical condition that impacts the mother, the child, and the family. Spouses, partners, family members, and friends may be the first to recognize symptoms of perinatal depression in a new mother. Treatment is central to recovery. Family members can encourage the mother to talk with a health care provider, offer emotional support, and assist with daily tasks such as caring for the baby or the home.

    Support or advocacy groups can offer a good source of support and information. One example of this type of group is Postpartum Support International others can be found through online searches.

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