It used to be called the baby blues and new mothers were supposed to just buck up and get over it. But now postpartum depression is recognized as a very real condition that could escalate if left untreated. Because of this, postpartum depression symptoms are important to recognize and treat.
The symptoms are as important to identify in men, who also get this type of depression.
It is common to become a little out of sorts when a new baby arrives: there is sleep deprivation, endless feeds and nappy changes and a host of other things to deal with after all.
However, postpartum depression symptoms are more than just feeling sad or down for a while. They may first appear a few weeks to a few months after the arrival of the baby and may last for up to a year.
Postpartum depression risk factors
Women with low self-esteem or a history of depression are more at risk. Women, who have had a lot of stress during their pregnancy or are generally stressed, also are more at risk.
Single mothers, mothers with low social support or childcare stress and women with relationship problems are at higher risk.
Women with lower socioeconomic statuses or those whose pregnancies were unplanned may also be likelier to have postpartum depression symptoms. Women who smoke are also at a higher risk.
Postpartum depression symptoms to watch out for
Mood swings are a common symptom: a woman may feel elated one moment and down in the dumps the next. Or she may have frequent crying jags, and feel sad, helpless, guilty, restless and irritable.
A woman may also feel anger or resentment towards her baby and others in the family. She may find that she feels numb and incapable of loving or caring or conversely she may feel excessively concerned about her baby and may find that she is constantly calling up the pediatrician looking for reassurance.
There could be changes in sleep patterns. Fatigue, lethargy and a loss of interest in otherwise enjoyable activities are other postpartum depression symptoms to watch out for. Panic attacks, hyperventilation, thoughts of death and even suicide could be among the symptoms. Left untreated, postpartum depression could escalate into postpartum psychosis, a severe and dangerous condition.