Whether you are concerned that you may be suffering from postpartum depression or would simply like to learn more about it, understanding the warning signs and getting treatment early will help you make the most of your time with your new baby. Here are the top 10 postpartum depression signs:
- Change in appetite. This can be an increase or decrease in the amount you are eating, or desire to eat. Breastfeeding mamas should cut themselves a little slack since you get about 500 calories extra per day, free!
- Change in sleep. Your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
- Anxiety, agitation or irritability. This means overly worrying about every little noise your baby makes or every new skin irritation that pops up. Additionally, things like being fearful of leaving the house, or visiting public places can be signs of anxiety. Little things like not being able to cope with a slightly messier house can be a sign of agitation. Or being very jumpy or judgmental with every thing your partner (or other family members/friends) says or does can be a sign of “irritability”.
- Decrease in energy, concentration, or ability to do work (at home or outside the house). This can mean that you are simply having trouble getting up, out of bed, and going in the morning. Or, it can mean that you’re re-reading the same line of email, a book, etc, over-and-over again.
- Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed, or a general malaise.
- General feelings of guilt or worthlessness. Or an overwhelming feeling that you are not a good parent. Worrying that everything you’re doing for your new baby is just not enough, or that every time your baby cries, you are the one to blame.
- Inability to care for yourself or your baby.
- Complete lack of libido.
- Negative feelings towards your baby. Or disinterest in your baby.
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
If you experience one or more of these postpartum depression signs and symptoms, and this has been going on for two weeks or more, it is time to seek additional help. However, if you have any thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, DO NOT WAIT! Contact your healthcare provider IMMEDIATELY!
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Fathers get postpartum depression too. It is called Paternal Postnatal Depression, or PPND. In addition to the signs listed in this article, men may also present with symptoms of reckless behavior or home avoidance such as reckless driving, increased use of pornography or alcohol, or working very long hours. You can read more on websites dedicated to helping dads find healing, and ultimately it is crucial to see your healthcare provider.
Call your OB, midwife, primary healthcare provider, therapist, or social worker to get help.
There are many factors that can play a role in whether or not you may develop postpartum depression (PPD). Women who have a history or close family history of depression or mental illness, a history of substance use/abuse, an unplanned pregnancy, and lack of support, and/or additional stressors such as loss of a job or a loved one, moving, etc are some risk factors for postpartum depression. Also, simply the hormonal changes, changes to your life/schedule, and lack of sleep all can create additional stressors that can lead to postpartum depression.
If you’ve had a history of postpartum depression with previous pregnancies (this includes miscarriages), make sure that you check-in with your healthcare provider frequently. Try to set up a good network of support to help out right after your baby is born. Attempt to get as much rest as possible with a new baby! And, NEVER hesitate to call your healthcare provider to ask if what you’re experiencing is normal. Checking-in NEVER hurts!