It is common to confuse simple "baby blues" with postpartum depression, but it happens all the time. Baby blues are very common, and happen when the mother feels conflicting feelings where she is happy that the baby has arrived and at the same time is very sad as well; this happens, even though everyone around is celebrating the new arrival.
Baby blues usually happen around 24 hours after childbirth and are characterized by feeling empty, sad and upset. One can have disturbed sleep, have difficulty sleeping at all, experience extreme crying spells, and can be exceptionally emotional with the baby blues.
Symptoms are at their worst between three to five days after the baby is born and can last up to two weeks.
However, postpartum depression is different. It lasts much longer than baby blues do, from six months to a year. Postpartum depression is also much more intense than baby blues are.
Baby blues are very common and do not interfere with the mothers' ability to take care of the baby or to go about normal daily life. However, postpartum depression can be extremely crippling and can stop normal life.
The depression itself can leave a woman emotionally fatigued and physically drained.
Following are some of the symptoms of postpartum depression, and should be watched out for:
* Having extreme mood swings and emotional fluctuations
* Being unable to sleep
* Being unable to enjoy your new baby
* Being unable to enjoy activities you did previously
* Being very fatigued
* Having fluctuations in appetite
* Feeling inadequate as a parent and spouse
* Having negative thoughts about yourself, and/or the baby
* Being suicidal, and/or thinking of harming the baby
There are times as well when postpartum depression can be severe enough that it can become postpartum psychosis. With postpartum psychosis, a new mother may become delusional, may become severely depressed, or may even start hallucinating.
Health centers in Edinburgh and Livingston have developed what is called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale; also called the "postpartum depression scale," this scale helps to detect possible postpartum depression in mothers.
If you or your health care provider suspects that you may be suffering from postpartum depression, you will be asked some questions from the scale, such as how long you have had the depression, how intense it is, any previous history of depression you have had, any substance abuse problems you have had, any marital problems you may be having, or any other discord or form of stress you may be experiencing now, so that conclusions can be drawn.
You will also be asked to take what is called a "postpartum depression scale test."
The latter is a questionnaire that has 10 statements, each with four possible answers. If you are asked to take this test, you will be asked to identify what you have felt in the past week, that just previous to the time you take the test.
If your score is higher than 92%, it is likely that you are severely depressed. Ideally, this test should be taken between six to eight weeks after you have given birth, and it should be completed by you (or the mother who has given birth, as applicable) without first discussing answers with anyone.
In addition to the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, there is also the PPD Screening Scale Test. This scale test has 35 items on it that you grade from a scale, ranging from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree."
After the test is taken, the physician should be consulted so that proper decisions and treatment can be discussed and applied.