Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Most women experience some mood changes after childbirth. It's natural, you just had a baby which means your hormone levels are changing and you are sleep deprived. When women experience mood symptoms during the first couple of weeks after delivery, they usually come out of the blue and do not last for very long. The symptoms can include: irritability, sudden bouts of crying, or feeling unmotivated or anxious. These symptoms do not usually significantly interfere with your ability to enjoy things or get in the way of functioning. Some people refer to these symptoms as “baby blues.” For most women, the symptoms resolve within a few days to weeks.
For about 15 percent of women, however, they experience more significant mood symptoms. If you find that your mood is significantly different than normal, and you cannot seem to “snap out of it,” you may be experiencing postpartum depression.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
- Not feeling as happy or lighthearted as usual
- Not looking forward to things or enjoying things as much as usual
- Blaming yourself when things go wrong
- Feeling anxious or worried for no good reason
- Feeling scared or panicky for no good reason
- Feeling so unhappy or anxious that you have difficulty sleeping
- Feeling sad or miserable
- Crying more than usual
- Having thoughts that people would be better off without you or thoughts of harming yourself
(Symptoms adapted from the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) - Cox, Holden & Sagovsky 1987)
You're Not Alone
Women who have a history of depression or anxiety before pregnancy have a higher risk of developing postpartum depression, but sometimes the symptoms of postpartum depression feel different than your normal depression or anxiety. This is likely due to hormonal changes, sleep disruption and the transition to motherhood.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, please seek help. Our reproductive psychiatry team are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of postpartum depression.
Our services include supportive counseling, psychotherapy and medication management. Our team supports breastfeeding and is knowledgeable about medication use during breastfeeding. We also understand how difficult it is to get to appointments during the postpartum period and encourage mothers to bring their babies to appointments.
Postpartum depression is common, and you should not feel like you have to try to manage these symptoms by yourself. We are here to help!