Lots of women suffer from acute depression after they've given birth to their babies, and this is commonly known as postpartum depression. These symptoms are often set off because of the hormonal changes that happen in the body during pregnancy.
Both estrogen and progesterone are female hormones, and these go up markedly during pregnancy. After giving birth, though, both of these hormones return to their normal levels after the first 24 hours. This is sudden drop in hormones might lead to a depression, which is usually acute.
Postpartum depression is different than the so-called "baby blues." Baby blues are pretty common among mothers. There may be a loss of appetite, episodes of crying, trouble sleeping, anxious feelings, mood swings, and so on.
In the vast majority of cases, the symptoms disappear after just a few days. These are not generally severe symptoms and they do not need treatment. However, postpartum depression is very different.
With postpartum depression, symptoms are very severe and last much longer than typical baby blues.
Symptoms can show up any time in the year after giving birth.
If you think you may be suffering from postpartum depression, especially a severe case of it, look for these symptoms:
- A lack of energy
- Trouble sleeping
- Excessive anxiety and worry
- Being anxious, guilty or fearful
- An inability to concentrate, confusion
- Being sad
- Lack of confidence, insecurity
- Obsessive-compulsive symptoms
- Extreme tiredness, fatigue, sluggishness, exhaustion
- Feelings of dread, the unknown, or heart palpitations
- An impulse to harm oneself or ones' baby
- Disinterest in keeping up personal appearance or hygiene
- Inability to cope with any situation
- Obsessing over the health of the baby
You can also suffer from a mild but long-lasting depression that is called dysthymia; this is not usually related to giving birth, but instead is usually the result of past circumstances like childhood traumas or even current circumstances that are abusive or difficult.
If you have symptoms of postpartum depression, but you can still take care of your baby and go about your daily routine, you probably have mild to moderate postpartum depression rather than the most severe case.
What is the best thing for you to do if you think you have postpartum depression? First, try to identify those things that make you feel stressed or overwhelmed.
These "stress triggers" may include things like getting up very often with your baby during the night, the extremely heavy workload a newborn gives you, including continually washing laundry and baby bottles, the constant "on-call" lifestyle of the new mother, and so on.
The mother may often feel that she is had a total loss of freedom because of the newborns' unpredictable schedule, and this may also be exacerbated by "small" things like having sore breasts because of nursing.
Many things cause postpartum depression, and the symptoms are quite clear if you know what you are looking for. You should take care of or treat them; if you do not, it is possible you could develop postpartum psychosis; postpartum psychosis is quite rare, but it is also a very severe illness.
With postpartum psychosis, you may experience hallucinations and delusions that involve hearing, seeing or smelling things that aren't actually there.
It is very normal if you have had a new baby that you will deal with some significant changes, both physical and emotional.
You may be more insecure about your appearance or you may have difficulty losing weight when you have not had to deal with this before, and/or you may have changes in how you feel about your sexuality or physical attractiveness.
All of these things can take a toll on you, as can the very common notion you may have that your abilities do not match the skills necessary to take proper care of your new baby. However, if postpartum depression becomes a problem for you, do seek treatment for it; this is imperative, both for your own health and that of your baby.