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Understanding Postpartum Depression -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?

Symptoms of postpartum depression (PDD) can be divided into three categories:

  • Postpartum blues ("baby blues"): Very short in duration, may not require formal treatment but supportive care only.
  • Postpartum depression: Lasts longer, is more debilitating, and requires medical care.
  • Postpartum psychosis: Most severe form, requires aggressive psychiatric care.

There are many possible symptoms of postpartum depression, including the following:

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive mental health services, including screening tests for depression and alcohol misuse, at no cost to you. Learn more.

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  • Inability to sleep or sleeping more than normal  
  • Change in appetite  
  • Extreme concern and worry about the baby or a lack of interest or feelings for 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  
  • Fear of harming your baby; these thoughts may be obsessive, and you may be afraid to be left alone in the house with your baby.  
  • Irritability  
  • Sadness or excessive crying  
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering  
  • Feelings of doubt, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, or restlessness  
  • Lethargy or extreme fatigue  
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or other usual activities  
  • 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 with an inability to be reassured  
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, which may include thinking about or even planning suicide  
  • Obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors that are intrusive

 

 

Call Your Doctor About Postpartum Depression If:

  • You have hallucinations and delusions about yourself or your baby; this is an emergency.
  • You have thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby.  
  • You have symptoms or signs of depression that have lasted longer than two weeks after childbirth or that began within two months of giving birth.

WARNING:

Suicidal (intent or attempt to kill oneself) and homicidal (intent or attempt to kill the another person) thoughts and/or attempts are very serious and are real risks of postpartum depression. These symptoms are not a myth and/or imaginary, as several cases have been well publicized. Seek immediate medical care if you have suicidal or homicidal thoughts.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD, FACOG on April 11, 2013

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