Saturday, January 12, 2013

Postpartum Depression (PPD) series Day 3: Signs & Symptoms

Today I want to outline the signs and symptoms of someone going through postpartum depression or PPD. PPD is not "the baby blues" which as much as 80 percent of women experience.

The baby blues are characterized by a temporary, short lived bout of moodiness or sadness after giving birth as the mother recovers from the physical strain of pregnancy and birth, and her body adjusts to changing hormones, changing shape and the responsibilities of a new baby. The baby blues are normal, manageable with support from others and do not last more than a couple weeks.

PPD on the other hand is characterized by the following, beginning any time in the first year after giving birth and lasting more than two weeks. Then it is time to seek help of some kind. This information comes from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, WebMD, Mayo Clinic, U.S. Dept. of Health, and Postpartum Support International.

  • Feelings of sadness or "down"-ness that don't go away.
  • Inability to sleep, even when the baby is sleeping.
  • Changes in appetite eating much more or much less.
  • Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety.
  • Inability to concentrate, focus or make decisions.
  • Inability to enjoy things you used to; lack of interest in the baby; lack of interest in friends and family.
  • Exhaustion; feeling "heavy."
  • Uncontrollable crying.
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
  • Feelings of hopelessness or despair.
  • Fear of being a "bad" mother, or that others will think you are.
  • Fear that harm will come to the baby.
  • Depressed mood-tearfulness, hopelessness, and feeling empty inside, with or without severe anxiety.
  • Loss of pleasure in either all or almost all of your daily activities.
  • Noticeable change in how you walk and talk-usually restlessness, but sometimes sluggishness.
  • Extreme fatigue or loss of energy.
  • Thoughts about death or suicide. Some women with PPD have fleeting, frightening thoughts of harming their babies. These thoughts tend to be fearful thoughts, rather than urges to harm.
  • Extreme concern and worry about the baby or a lack of interest or feelings for the baby, or difficulty bonding with the baby. 
  • Feeling unable to love the baby or your family.
  • Anger toward the baby, your partner, or other family members
  • Anxiety or panic attacks. 
  • Mood swings marked by exaggerated highs and lows
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Numbness or tingling in your arms or legs
  • Hyperventilating
  • Frequent calls to the pediatrician (or in my case the lactation consultant) with an inability to be reassured. 
  • Obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors that are intrusive.
  • Loss of interest in sex.
  • Withdrawal from family and friends.
  • Feeling sad overwhelmed.
  • Having memory problems.
  • Having headaches, aches and pains, or stomach problems that don't go away.
Next: Day 4: Where to find help. 

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