What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?
The symptoms of postpartum depression affect your quality of life and include:
- Feeling sad or down often
- Frequent crying or tearfulness
- Feeling restless, irritable or anxious
- Loss of interest or pleasure in life
- Loss of appetite
- Less energy and motivation to do things
- Difficulty sleeping, including trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep or sleeping more than usual
- Feeling worthless, hopeless or guilty
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Feeling like life isn't worth living
- Showing little interest in your baby
Although many women get depressed right after childbirth, some women don't begin to feel depressed until several weeks or months later. Depression that occurs within 6 months of childbirth may be postpartum depression.
In rare cases, a woman may develop postpartum psychosis. This is a very serious disease and includes all the symptoms of postpartum depression and thoughts of hurting yourself or hurting the baby. If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, get help immediately.
How long does postpartum depression last?
It varies for each woman. Some women feel better within a few weeks, but others feel depressed or "not themselves" for many months. Women who have more severe symptoms of depression or who have had depression in the past may take longer to get well. Just remember that help is available and that you can get better.
Postpartum Major Depression: Detection and Treatment by C. Neill Epperson, M.D. (American Family Physician April 15, 1999, http://www.aafp.org/afp/990415ap/2247.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff