Put most simply, postpartum depression (PPD) refers to a depressive episode that occurs within the first year after the birth of the baby. Although most commonly seen in mothers, fathers can also experience postpartum mood changes. Fifteen percent of the time, depressive symptoms start during pregnancy. Postpartum depression is different from the “baby blues” which refers to transient mood changes lasting no more than two weeks. If mood changes persist for two weeks or more, you may have a postpartum depression that should be assessed. Other depressive symptoms seen more commonly in PPD include:
- Excessive worry about the baby’s health or well being
- Severe sleep deprivation
- Profound anxiety or panic attacks
- Feelings of extreme inadequacy and self-doubt, particularly around care of the
- Difficulty bonding with the baby or lack of interest in bonding
- Some women with PPD have fears or thoughts about hurting their baby but
know that they will not act on these thoughts. This is relatively common. In much
rarer cases, women may experience postpartum psychosis, which means that she
has lost contact with reality. In such cases, immediate assessment by a
medical professional is required, for the safety of both the woman and the baby.
Postpartum depression may go untreated because of the difficulty leaving home to get to an appointment or because of the intense involvement required in caring for a newborn. It is however a condition that can respond very well to counselling or in other cases medication, or both. If you would like to call or email me to discuss your personal situation, I would be happy to hear from you.