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How Do I Know If I Have Postpartum Depression?

How Do I Know If I Have Postpartum Depression?

How Do I Know If I Have Postpartum Depression?

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Published: February 16, 2023

It is common for a new mother to have overwhelming mood swings for several days soon after having a baby. Many experience these intense symptoms right away. The changes in hormone levels following childbirth are quite intense, and the ‘baby blues’ affect the majority of new mothers.

It only starts to become concerning when these overwhelming negative feelings and the depressed mood become persistent. That’s when we have to consider that the a new Mother may be showing symptoms of postpartum depression. 

This blog post explores what postpartum depression is, its causes, and the signs and symptoms you can look out for. If you think you may have symptoms of postpartum depression, you should contact your healthcare professional. Treatment is available with professionals who are experienced in postpartum depression.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression (also known as PPD) is a mental health condition similar to major depression. It can affect appear days after giving birth or appear months later. It involves strong feelings of sadness, worthlessness, loneliness, anxiety, and fatigue that can make it very difficult for you to take care of your baby and yourself. 

Postpartum depression can often be confused with baby blues. Research shows that up to 80% of newly delivered mothers experience the baby blues, also known as transitory postpartum depressive syndrome.

The baby blues can present about two to 35 days after giving birth and usually lasts up to two weeks. The common symptoms are moodiness, sleep disturbance (even when the baby is resting), appetite issues, feeling overwhelmed, low concentration, and frequent crying. If these feelings last much longer than two weeks, mothers are recommended to seek help from their medical provider. 

The feelings of postpartum depression last quite a while after birth. When you have depression, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing the feelings are your fault. They are not. Unfortunately, postpartum depression is a common concern for new mothers. It affects about 6.5% to 20% of new moms.

It is a good idea to be aware of the symptoms of PDD and to understand how it differs from the baby blues. The sooner you can recognize that you may have postpartum depression, the sooner you can seek treatment to help you recover.

Causes and Risk Factors for Postpartum Depression

Causes and Risk Factors for Postpartum Depression

Potential Causes

Postpartum depression has no single cause but can be due to a combination of family history, physiological changes, and psychological issues. If you have another condition, such as bipolar disorder, you may also be at risk of PDD.

  • Genetics: Research has shown that certain genes contribute to a new mom's risk of developing postpartum depression. When thinking about your vulnerability to PDD, you may find it helpful to ask whether other family members have also experienced it.
  • Physiological changes: Following childbirth, there’s usually a dramatic drop in hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone), and this has the potential to provoke postpartum depression. Even thyroid hormone levels can drop, contributing to feelings of fatigue and depression. 
  • Emotional and psychological issues: Many emotional issues accompany pregnancy, such as feeling a loss of one's identity or lacking control. After giving birth, more issues can arise, such as sleep deprivation and feeling overwhelmed. All these feelings impact you psychologically and can tip you in the direction of experiencing postpartum depression. 

Risk factors

Any person giving birth, whether it’s their first time or not, can potentially develop postpartum depression. However, there is increased risk with the following circumstances.

  • You have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder
  • You have a history of depression
  • You had postpartum depression after a previous pregnancy
  • You usually experience severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • You have members of your family who have struggled with depression or other mood disorders
  • You have recently experienced a stressful major life event, such as the loss of a loved one, financial burden, pregnancy complications, or job loss
  • You have twins, triplets, or more
  • You struggle with breastfeeding
  • Your baby has health or development issues
  • It was a premature birth
  • You are having relationship problems with your partner
  • You don’t have a stable support system (especially if you are a new mother) or lack emotional support
  • The pregnancy was unwanted, unplanned, or the result of a traumatic experience
Signs of Postpartum Depression

Signs of Postpartum Depression

PPD symptoms often develop in the first month, right after giving birth, but it is possible for them to start during pregnancy, as perinatal depression, or even a year after. If you suspect you might have symptoms of postpartum depression, here are the signs that you should pay attention to. 

Changes in Feelings

  • Feelings of extreme sadness most of the day, daily
  • Persistent feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or shame
  • Frequent crying spells
  • Feeling anxious and often panicked for no direct reason
  • Severe mood swings
  • Irrational irritability

Changes in Your Daily Life

  • A lack of interest in things you usually enjoy
  • Withdrawing physically and emotionally from friends and family members
  • Constantly tired, even with sleep
  • No energy or motivation for life
  • A shift in eating habits, either eating more or less than is normal for you
  • Drastic visible weight gain or weight loss
  • Frequent headaches or stomach problems that don’t go away
  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Lack of concentration
  • Memory issues
  • Feelings of frustrating indecisiveness

Issues With Your Relationship With Your Baby

  • Having issues bonding with your baby
  • Showing little interest in your baby
  • Thinking about harming yourself or harming your baby

Someone experiencing postpartum depression may even have suicidal thoughts.

Not everyone with postpartum depression goes through every single sign and symptom. This is because postpartum depression ranges from moderate to severe. However, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms after giving birth, talk with your Medical Doctor or Nurse Midwife to find help. Don't let postpartum depression affect your life for any longer than it needs to.

What Is Postpartum Psychosis?

What Is Postpartum Psychosis?

Postpartum psychosis is rare and should not be confused with postpartum depression. If someone shows symptoms, medical help must be sought immediately.

Postpartum psychosis occurs in about 1 to 2 new mothers out of every 1,000 . It can happen to anyone who recently gave birth. While it usually happens within several days of giving birth, it can happen up to six weeks after. It is viewed as a medical emergency because its symptoms can be life-threatening to oneself or to their child/children.

Symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis

  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
  • Severe and rapid mood swings (for example, hysterical crying, followed by frequent laughter and then feeling depressed in the space of half an hour or less)
  • A constant state of confusion
  • Restlessness and unfounded agitation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Overwhelming paranoia where you think others are trying to harm you
  • Behaving in an uncharacteristically reckless way
  • Trying to harm yourself or your baby (new moms should always try to keep the national suicide prevention lifeline number visible in their home)

If you or someone you know has thoughts of harming themselves, call 988 or go to 988lifeline.org to chat with someone at suicide and crisis lifeline. To contact the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline call 1-833-943-5746 (1-833-9-help4moms)

Complications of Untreated Postpartum Depression Symptoms

When left untreated, postpartum depression can last for several months or even much longer, which can also leave an impact on your baby. 

Complications for mothers: If the postpartum depression goes untreated for too long, the signs and symptoms can prolong to the point of becoming a persistent depressive disorder.

Complications for babies: Postpartum depression affects the mom's relationship with the baby. Over time, the baby may experience difficulties with eating, sleeping, and behavior.

Complications for the other parent: Often, there can be a ripple effect with postpartum depression where anyone else who is close to the new baby can be affected. This is usually the partner or spouse if there is one. Researchers have found that the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, used to diagnose PPD in new moms, can also be used on fathers. https://perinatology.com/calculators/Edinburgh%20Depression%20Scale.htm

When to See a Mental Health Provider

Mothers experiencing postpartum depression often feel they should not tell anyone about their symptoms. They may feel ashamed, embarrassed, and guilty that they have such negative feelings at a time when social messaging tells them they’re supposed to be feeling fulfilled. This is one of the most unfortunate barriers to seeing a healthcare professional and getting postpartum depression diagnosed.

At this point, it should be emphasized that if you are feeling the symptoms of postpartum depression, it does not mean you are a bad mother, and you don’t have to keep suffering. Medical and mental health providers are always available to help you figure out if your symptoms are a result of depression or something else. 

If you’re constantly experiencing any and many of the following signs, then you should definitely consider seeing a mental health provider.

  • Sadness and guilt consume your thoughts almost daily. 
  • Your baby blues aren’t getting better after two weeks.
  • You’re losing interest in simple things that you enjoy.
  • You’re constantly frustrated and indecisive. 
  • Your sleep patterns are very concerning. 
  • You’ve experienced big and stressful changes in your life (besides having a baby).
  • You constantly have deep worry about not being a good mother or you feel unconnected to your baby as if the child is not yours.
  • You think about harming yourself or your baby. 

It is easy to feel hopeless for both yourself and your baby, but postpartum depression can be treated as soon as you have your diagnosis from a trusted medical doctor.

If your symptoms have reached a severe level, treatment options can include a monitored combination of antidepressant medicines, talk therapy, and support groups. Of course, the best treatment will always be tailored to you and your specific needs. 

When getting postpartum depression treated, it can be beneficial to join a support group of new moms who also experience postpartum depression such as any of the options provided by Postpartum Support International https://www.postpartum.net/ It helps so that you feel less alone and gain insight into how other mothers are feeling.

Contact Us

If you are feeling depressed and concerned that your symptoms are not the baby blues, please get in touch. We can help you with postpartum depression and treat depression that stems from other causes.

We have a lot of experience in providing care for mental illness and can provide you with an assessment to ensure that you receive individualized support.

GIA Miami's facility is located in Miami. Our center is a peaceful and light-filled space where you can begin your recovery with treatment tailored to your specific needs.

The GIA Miami staff prioritizes discretion and empathy. You can come in freely without fear of judgment. As soon as you arrive, you’ll feel welcomed and have hope that you can achieve the recovery you deserve. 

At GIA Miami, we also want to acknowledge that everyone who needs help for their mental health, illness after giving birth, or otherwise is welcome. No matter your age, race, disability, or political standing. We believe if anyone needs care, they should receive it

If you’re ready to start your journey with us to discover how you can overcome and treat postpartum depression for the good of both you and your family, then please don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.

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