Post Partum Depression Symptoms

"Oh, no. There's no history of postpartum depression in my family." That's what I told my doctor. I shouldn't have been so quick to speak. Postpartum depression can strike any new mom, so the best thing you can do for yourself is to not quickly dismiss this possibility. A new mom recently sent me a message asking me about it. Her baby was five months old and she had been having some issues with her husband. But they weren't typical problems that crop up over the years. They had been bubbling up for a few weeks and were getting worse. And she just had a feeling that it was something in her. To top it off, the baby wasn't sleeping well either.

She asked me if she could be experiencing postpartum depression. Granted, I'm not a doctor, but I have experienced it and know what it feels like. I asked several questions and told her to talk to her doctor, since it sounded like a valid possibility.

However, this problem shouldn't be confused with the commonly described "baby blues" which experts say affects 50-60 percent of new mothers. Postpartum depression strikes 5-10 percent of new mommies. A much less common problem, but far more severe issue, that affects some moms is postpartum psychosis.

The baby blues, as mentioned, is the most common. It occurs within the first week or so after delivery. The symptoms may include irritability, tearfulness, anxiety, insomnia, loss of energy, decreased appetite, and difficulty concentrating. These problems usually resolve themselves in a couple of weeks, but should not be ignored. The best way to deal with them is through support, physical and emotional, from friends and family.

Postpartum depression is obviously more serious in nature and requires medical attention. The symptoms are similar to the blues, but last much longer. A mom can experience depression so severe that it's a challenge, to say the least, to care for her new baby. It may have long-term ramifications on the child's long-term development, and it may occur anytime during the first six months. Experts note that two out of every three moms recover within a year's time, but it has to be managed by a doctor. They say that if the "baby blues" symptoms last longer than 2 weeks, the mom truly needs to seek medical attention. Treatment is available for this problem - don't go through this alone!

Finally, if the new mom is becoming delusional or is hallucinating, call her doctor immediately. She may even be considering harming the baby or herself. This is called postpartum psychosis and is very dangerous to her health and the health of her baby! It is also likely to occur after future deliveries. Treatment of this disorder is absolutely essential!

If you notice a new mom withdrawing from people around her, from activities she usually enjoys, if she is becoming increasingly negative and is experiencing angry rages, help her see the need to seek medical attention. She needs your love, support and encouragement right now. Do not issue threats of leaving her or taking away the baby if she doesn't "get it together". She needs help and that threat will cast her deeper into her depression. Go with her to visit the doctor and tell him or her what you have seen. Give specific examples as much as you can.

Have friends and family come to help with the housework and childcare. Talk to your pastor or other respected members of your church family and ask them to sincerely pray for your spouse or family member. And remember, your constant love and support are critical to help the new mommy!

~by Kim Luckabaugh