Mother with Newborn

Signs of Postpartum Depression in Women

Posted on February 6th, 2017

Postpartum depression is a form of depression that affects roughly 12.5% of all new mothers anywhere from days to months after they give birth. The condition can occur in mild, moderate or severe form. No one knows exactly why depression arises in the aftermath of childbirth, although doctors and researchers have identified the most common risk factors. The medical community has also identified the most likely postpartum symptoms.

Similarities to Other Forms of Depression

Many of the postpartum signs of depression in women are the same as those found in people with major depression or other forms of depressive illness such as persistent depressive disorder or disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. The core symptoms associated with all forms of depression include:

  • A down or depressed mood
  • An anxious state of mind
  • An irritable or agitated state of mind
  • A declining ability to concentrate
  • The presence of negative feelings/emotions such as guilt or worthlessness
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Changes in your normal appetite
  • An inability to gain pleasure from your preferred activities
  • A sense of disconnection or withdrawal from others
  • Thoughts centered on death or mortality
  • Suicidal thinking or suicidal behavior

Specific Signs in Postpartum Women

Some of the postpartum signs of depression in women are specific to the context of childbirth and new motherhood. These symptoms can help you or your doctor identify the presence of a problem. They commonly include:

  • An inability to take care of yourself or your new child in the days, weeks or months following childbirth
  • A fear of being alone with your new child
  • A notable lack of interest in your child’s well-being
  • Intense or excessive worry regarding your child’s well-being
  • Negative thoughts or feelings directed toward your child
  • Thoughts of harming your child (Most women never act on these thoughts, although a small percentage do.)

It’s critically important to disclose all symptoms of postpartum depression when talking to your doctor. That’s because doctors largely rely on this self-reported information to make a diagnosis. Without your active help, your condition could easily go undetected and untreated.

Resources

U.S. National Library of Medicine – MedlinePlus: Postpartum Depression https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007215.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Depression Among Women https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/

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