By Marla K Ruhana, L.M.S.W.
Q: I had a baby three weeks ago. How do I know if I have postpartum depression?
A: Following childbirth, 85-95% of new mothers experience some form of mood complication. Many suffer from symptoms during pregnancy and many women suffer from one of the following after delivery.
The "baby blues"differ from depression in severity and duration. It is normal to have temporary sadness and lack of energy, within the first few weeks of childbirth. It is common for women to experience forgetfulness, tearfulness, anxiety, irritability, fluctuating mood swings, insomnia, sleep deprivation and crying episodes. The baby blues typically subside in a few weeks, when hormonal changes have settled down. You can have bouts of baby blues throughout the first year of your baby's life, but the sadness is temporary and usually managed with support from family and loved ones.
If your symptoms are more severe or last longer, you may be suffering from postpartum depression (PPD), a treatable medical condition, which could become serious if ignored. Women with PPD usually exhibit multiple signs and symptoms every day, for an extended period (unlike baby blues, in which women sporadically feel sad, but are able to resume happiness).
Signs of postpartum depression include:
In very serious cases, women may experience postpartum psychosis, which can be detrimental to a new mother, her children and entire family. Postpartum psychosis can include all of the signs associated with PPD (above), however will include at least a few of the following as well; suicidal or homicidal ideation, hallucinations, delusions, extreme anxiety and hopelessness, mood vacillating between despair and elation.