Having a baby is a big deal, and the birth of a baby can trigger many powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. But it can also result in something unexpected — depression.
Mothers often have a lot of different feelings and emotions in the weeks and months after they give birth. These feelings can change often, going from happy to sad to worried to scared and back again. These emotional changes are commonly known as the “baby blues.”
Many new moms experience the “baby blues” after childbirth. Baby blues can begin within the first two or three days after delivery, and could last up to two weeks. Common symptoms of the baby blues may include:
- Mood swings
- Crying spells
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Reduced concentration
- Appetite problems
However, some new moms may experience something more severe and longer-lasting, a form of depression commonly known as postpartum depression. Postpartum depression isn’t a flaw or a weakness; sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth.
Postpartum depression may be mistaken for the “baby blues” at first, but the symptoms are more intense, last longer and eventually interfere with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin later — up to six months after birth.
Signs and symptoms of depression after childbirth vary, and they can range from mild to severe; some symptoms may include:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Contact your doctor immediately if your signs and symptoms of depression have any of these features:
- Don’t fade after two weeks
- Are getting worse
- Make it hard for you to care for your baby
- Make it hard to complete everyday tasks
- Include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
If you’re feeling depressed after giving birth, you may be reluctant or embarrassed to admit it. But, it is important to talk with your doctor about all of your postpartum symptoms. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms — and enjoy your baby.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of “baby blues” or postpartum depression, you should call Greenville Women’s Clinic and schedule an appointment with your doctor today. We are here to listen to any of your concerns or worries after giving birth.