Although it is not uncommon for the vast majority of new mothers to go through a period of the “Baby Blues” immediately after the birth of their child, this minor depression typically fades after a week or two, as the mother settles into her new role and her emotions and hormones become more balanced. Postpartum depression, or PPD, on the other hand, doesn’t simply go away. It’s a serious illness that negatively impacts the woman it affects and those around her.
How can you tell if you or someone you know is suffering from postpartum depression? The following are some – but not all – signs to watch for:
Baby Blues that last longer than normal – If after the first two weeks a mother continues to be sleep deprived, tired, constantly worried about the well-being of her baby, lacks energy is consistently weepy or is continuing to display any other post-birth behavior, this could be an early warning sign of postpartum depression.
Too concerned about the baby to sleep – even when the baby is in a peaceful slumber, the new mom may not be able to sleep because she is too anxious about her infant. She may stay awake and wait to tend to the baby should he/she wake up for a feeding or cry.
Uninterested in activities that were once enjoyed – a postpartum depression sufferer may show disinterest in going out or taking part in any hobbies she used to regularly enjoy. She may want to remain at home all the time.
Disregard for self-image – she may no longer keep herself groomed, tidy or even change her clothes regularly. She may not longer feel good about herself or care to make herself look good.
Negative thoughts – postpartum depression may cause a mother to think that she is not a good parent; make her wonder why she had a child; make her feel inadequate as a caregiver; feel she will never get her life back and so on. These upsetting and self-criticizing thoughts can be seen in her body language and may present as laziness or sluggishness, the constant need to sleep and fatigue. She may even distance herself from her baby and not respond when the child needs to be fed, changed, etc., and may feel she can’t handle being alone with the infant.
Mood swings and overreactions – frequent mood changes, overreacting to inconsequential matters and prone to weeping are all possible symptoms of a mother struggling with postpartum depression. She may burst into tears from feeling overwhelmed with her responsibilities as a parent and may sob, shout or be accusatory for no particular reason. These symptoms may be even more prevalent if there is an older and demanding child she must care for, as well.
Concentration difficulties – the vast majority of moms with this specific form of depression find it incredibly difficult to focus and their ability to analyze and make decisions decreases. They often tend to be forgetful, seem dazed and may be completely indifferent and unfeeling when it comes to significant issues that once mattered to them.
If you or someone else you know is showing any of these postpartum depression indicators, or others not mentioned above, it’s important that this is brought to the attention of a healthcare provider so a proper diagnoses can be made and the condition can be treated.