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Postpartum Depression Symptoms: A guide to identifying postpartum depression/postpartum mood disorders.

Some statistics show the majority of mothers experience at least one of the range of postpartum mood disorders after they give birth.

Since these illnesses range from mild “baby blues” to the most severe form of postpartum depression known as postpartum psychosis, it is crucial for mothers to learn about each form in order to identify their own symptoms.

Baby Blues

The baby blues after birth occurs to about 80% of mothers. Since the rapid drop in pregnancy hormones including estrogen and progesterone often take place on the third day after birth, mothers can feel some symptoms of baby blues this early. Some of the symptoms might include:

  1. Extreme mood swings from joy to depression
  2. Feeling as if you are not a good mother
  3. Fatigue
  4. Concern over caring for the baby

These symptoms typically resolve after about 2 weeks postpartum.

Postpartum Anxiety/Panic/OCD Disorders

The next range of postpartum moods disorders often includes postpartum depression, anxiety and or panic attacks. While some mother may react to postpartum adjustment by anxiety behaviors, others may have problems with panic attacks. Still others may feel obsessive-compulsive disorders. Symptoms of these include the following:

1. Anxiety Disorders – feeling keyed up, tiring easily, irritable, insomnia, difficulty focusing

2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders – repetitive behavior or thoughts which cause anxiety and stress

3. Panic Attacks – sweating, trembling, nausea, feeling dizzy, numbness in hands and feet, short of breath

Unlike baby blues, these symptoms generally last for much longer than 2 weeks.

Major Postpartum Depression

Some mothers experience a growing sense of depression that lasts for longer than the 2 week adjustment of baby blues. Some of these symptoms include:

  1. depression for most of the day
  2. lack of interest in dauly activities
  3. weight loss or weight gain
  4. difficulty sleeping
  5. fatigue
  6. feelings of worthlessness
  7. thoughts of suicide

It is unlikely that either major depression or depression that takes the form of panic/anxiety/OCD will get better with time. See the article on Postpartum Mood Disorders Treatment for help.

Postpartum Psychotic Depression

About 1 in every 1,000 women will suffer from the severest form of pospartum mood disorders known as postpartum psychosis. These symptoms include:

  1. delusions
  2. hallucinations
  3. disorganized speech
  4. inappropriate behavior

These severe symptoms can last for one day or up to a month. In some cases, the symptoms of postpartum psychosis are preceeded by a period of restlessness or agitation. If family or friends suspect that the mother is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate help from your primary care provider.

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