The Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Becoming a mother is an incredible journey filled with joy and excitement. However, it is also a time of immense change and adjustment, both physically and emotionally. While it is normal to experience some ups and downs after giving birth, for some women, these feelings can become more intense and long-lasting. This is known as postpartum depression, a condition that affects approximately 15% of new mothers.

Any parent  with a new addition to the family can experience postpartum depression, including adoptive parents. That’s why recognizing the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression is crucial for both the parent’s well-being and the baby's health. It is important to differentiate between postpartum depression and the "baby blues" or hormonal changes that occur after childbirth. By understanding the difference, you can seek the necessary support and treatment from Fourth Down to ensure a healthy and happy postpartum experience. In this article, we will explore the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, helping you navigate this challenging time with confidence and understanding.

Postpartum Depression: What Is It?

Up to 70% of women feel sad, worried, or tired in the days after giving birth. These feelings may be due to hormonal changes, lack of rest, and the monumental lifestyle changes that come with welcoming a new baby into the family. They usually subside in a few days.

Postpartum depression (PD) is a longer-lasting, more severe form of depression that lasts more than two weeks after having a baby. It affects your health and your actions and may interfere with your ability to care for your baby. PD is a serious mental condition that can get worse over time, making diagnosis, treatment, and a strong support system essential. 

Common Causes of Postpartum Depression

PD can happen to anyone, and it's not because of anything you did during pregnancy or delivery. While there is no definitive way to determine whether someone will or won't have postpartum depression, there are certain factors that can increase the chances of it occurring. 

Some of the causes of postpartum depression include:

  • A personal or family history of depression
  • Limited support following the birth of your baby
  • Marital conflict or other added stressors
  • Age at the time of pregnancy (very young mothers are more likely to have postpartum depression)
  • Having a baby with special needs or health problems
  • A difficult or traumatic birth

Common Signs of Postpartum Depression

While short-term blues are common after pregnancy, it's important to be able to understand when you're experiencing a more severe issue and should seek help. One or more of these symptoms could indicate you have postpartum depression.

  • Symptoms persist for longer than 2 weeks
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt
  • Crying for “no reason” or excessively
  • Difficulty thinking or focusing
  • Lack of interest in your baby or feeling anxious around the baby
  • Changes in appetite or sleep habits
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
  • Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Withdrawing from friends and family

The Impact of Postpartum Depression on New Mothers and Families

Postpartum depression is a serious illness that can have a lasting impact without the right treatment. It can diminish your ability to bond with your baby and even affect your family. Untreated PD can last for months and can turn into chronic depressive disorder, affecting your mental health. Your depression can lead you to feel exhausted and unable to take care of your baby, leading to neglect. Since PD impacts your health and the way you behave, your partner is also more likely to be depressed. Other children typically feel the burden as well and display problems with sleeping, eating, and timely language development. 

Beyond Postpartum Depression

While Postpartum Depression may be the most well-known postpartum mental health disorder, it’s not the only one. Many people experience a combination of postpartum conditions, including:

Baby Blues

This affects up to 80% of new mothers, and can come with mood swings, sadness, irritability, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. It typically begins a few days after childbirth and usually resolves within two weeks without treatment.

Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum anxiety includes extreme worries and fears, often about the baby’s health and safety. Often, symptoms can include panic attacks and hyperventilation. Seeking treatment can be helpful.

Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

PPOCD is characterized by persistent, intrusive thoughts and compulsions, often centered around the baby.

Postpartum Psychosis

This is rare and can include hallucinations, paranoia, and disorientation/confusion. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is wise to seek medical attention.

Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PPTSD)

This is often characterized by symptoms like nightmares, flashbacks, and anxiety and can occur after a traumatic birthing experience.

Postpartum Bipolar Mood Disorders

Postpartum bipolar can involve mood swings from deep sadness or depression to streaks of mania. This can be more common in people who have been previously diagnosed as bipolar.

Fourth Down's Postpartum Support Services

The transition from hospital to home with a new baby can be challenging. Having a strong support system can help you establish a new routine as you and your family become accustomed to life with a new baby.  Postpartum support services from Fourth Down are designed to give you the personalized support you need within the first hours and days after delivery. 

First 24

Our team member will meet you at home after you leave the hospital to provide support in the form that you find most helpful. This may include playing with your older children so you can focus on your newborn or caring for the newborn while you recover.

Postpartum Daytime Care Services

Easing into new responsibilities while healing can be difficult. Postpartum daytime services give you an extra hand during the early weeks following delivery. While the primary focus is caring for the baby, certified postpartum doulas can assist with baby-related chores while you focus on self-care, your partner, and older children.

Overnight Postpartum Services

Good, high-quality rest is an extremely important tool in your post-partum depression management toolkit.  We can help with that! Our team will handle night time care while you get some much needed rest. 

Fourth Down: Committed to Providing Comprehensive Postpartum Assistance

Postpartum depression is a common but serious illness that can affect new moms. By learning the early warning signs, you can get the help you need to keep you and your family healthy. 

At Fourth Down, we believe firmly in the power of having a strong local support system during pregnancy and the first several months after welcoming a new baby. Asking for help is a sign of strength and we would be honored to help you. We believe the right help can assist in making this period a joyful, transformative experience. Contact us to learn more about our pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum services.

If you believe you may be experiencing postpartum depression, there are resources available to you. Please visit the Mental Health Services Directory for Pregnant or Postpartum Women ffor more information.

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