Giving birth is certainly one of the most important events in a woman’s life, and for most of them it is a time of joy, happiness and fulfillment on all levels. Nonetheless, as important and beautiful as it may be, childbirth may be accompanied by serious emotional, physical and psychological stress, and it is not uncommon for some women to experience a certain degree of anxiety or even depression right after their child is born. This depression or deep state of anxiety that can range anywhere from mild to severe is commonly referred to as ‘postpartum depression,’ and it is essential to have it treated right away in order to prevent long-term consequences. Also, it is very important to distinguish postpartum depression from the classic ‘baby blues,’ a more mild state of sadness and confusion very common among women who have just given birth.
What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?
Just as with other cases of clinical depression, the symptoms of postpartum depression can grow to be severe, and can last anywhere from a few months to a few years. During that time, the new mother may feel hopeless and may partially or totally lose interest in her baby. In rare cases, the women may even feel the desire to self-inflict wounds or to hurt their babies – this is why getting professional help is of utmost importance, especially since specialists trained in the field can be found in every hospital or clinic that specializes in child delivery. The signs and symptoms that are typically associated with postpartum depression usually surface within the first year after childbirth, and may be triggered by several factors, from the hormonal changes that take place in the mother’s body to the physical and emotional changes she is going through right after childbirth. Stress plays a crucial role as well – as a matter of fact, it often happens that stress is the real trigger.
Even though postpartum depression can be accompanied by a series of symptoms (from the less obvious to the most severe), the most common ones include sudden and uncontrollable anger, sadness, guilt, lack of hope, loss of interest in hobbies or even in caring for the baby, as well as crying, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, and major changes in the behavioral patterns and eating habits of the mother. It is extremely important to recognize the difference between ‘baby blues,’ which typically lasts for one to two weeks, and postpartum depression, which can go on for years. Generally speaking, the ‘baby blues’ trigger mood swings, crying, sadness and anxiety – symptoms that are somewhat similar to those of postpartum depression, the main difference being that in cases of the latter, the mother experiences them at a much higher degree.
Another very serious but rare condition is postpartum psychosis, which can have much more severe consequences. The typical signs and symptoms here include paranoia, confusion, disorientation, delusions and even deep hallucinations. If you experience these symptoms or any other symptoms associated with depression or psychosis, it is crucial to contact a doctor immediately, especially if the symptoms worsen or do not go away within a couple of weeks, and they begin to take a toll on your daily life and activities.