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Postpartum Depression Symptoms and Treatment

The birth of a baby is supposed to be a joyous time.  While many women experience the baby blues, these symptoms usually dissipate the second week after a baby’s birth.  However, some women experience more depressive symptoms, which can be a sign of a serious condition called postpartum depression.  This debilitating disease occurs in one of every eight women after delivery, most commonly one to three months after they give birth. Postpartum depression is often preceded by the Baby Blues. While baby blues depression symptoms may only last a couple of days or weeks, postpartum depression symptoms may last much longer. 

Postpartum Depression Symptoms

Although postpartum depression symptoms are most commonly experienced one to three months after giving birth, they can often peak after three to four months. Postpartum depression symptoms include the presence of five or more of the following:

  • Depressed mood, often accompanied or overshadowed by severe anxiety
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in activities
  • Appetite disturbance – usually loss of appetite with weight loss
  • Sleep disturbance – most often insomnia and fragmented sleep, even when the baby sleeps
  • Physical agitation (most commonly) or psychomotor slowing
  • Fatigue, decreased energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Decreased concentration or ability to make decisions
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation

Postpartum Depression Risk Factors

  • Those who have experienced previous episodes of postpartum depression symptoms
  • Women with mood disorders
  • Women who have suffered from depression before
  • Women undergoing concurrent stressful life events 

Postpartum Depression Treatment

Postpartum depression treatment will often help symptoms disappear within a few months. However, it may take longer with more severe cases. Some postpartum depression treatment options include:

  • Antidepressant medications
  • Psychotherapy and Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Hormone treatment

Postpartum Psychosis

A rare disorder that occurs in 1-2/1000 births, thought to be related to bipolar disorder, Postpartum Psychosis occurs in the first 3-14 days of the postpartum period.

Symptoms include:

  • An inability to sleep even while the baby is sleeping
  • Odd thoughts such as hearing voices or thoughts that the baby or one’s spouse is trying to harm them in some way
  • Anxiety that will not resolve, even with reassurance
  • Racing thoughts that interfere with basic functioning
  • Extreme mood swings and irritability

It is a life threatening emergency and psychiatric help in the form of a hospital evaluation in an emergency room should be sought immediately.

Hospitalization may be necessary in some cases, especially in cases of postpartum psychosis.

How We Can Help

Your total wellness is important to us during this special time in your life.  Just as you, your doctors and nurses pay special attention to keeping your body healthy, remember that your spirits are just as important.  If you think you may be suffering from postpartum depression symptoms, you are not alone. We can assist you in finding help.

For More Information

We have a 24-hour crisis hotline where we can assist you in finding the help you need.  Please call us at 866.364.6667.