You have been dreaming about this time for nine months and maybe even years—the arrival of your long awaited baby. So why aren’t you elated? Why aren’t you thrilled when your little one recognizes you and smiles? Why aren’t you laughing with each little gurgle? You should be feeling all these happy emotions, and yet… all you feel is numb and sad. What’s wrong with me, you wonder. Here are eight signs you may have postpartum depression.
Is It Baby Blues?
Up to 80% of new mothers experience baby blues after giving birth. Among these, at least 15% will develop postpartum depression. Baby blues only last 10 days to a few weeks with sadness and anxiety, whereas postpartum depression is more long lasting and more severe. Crying, mood changes, lethargy, guilt, and fatigue are just some of the common symptoms of both.
Postpartum depression can last up to one year, and requires assistance from a physician. It is important to understand that you are not alone, and PPD is quite common after childbirth.
Diagnosing Postpartum Depression
There is no real test to determine if you have PPD, but it may be recommended you do a depression screening and a blood test. Your physician will rely on your answers to specific questions about your feelings. It is essential you are completely honest. In addition, your physician may utilize the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to evaluate if you meet the criteria for postpartum depression.
8 Signs You May Have Postpartum Depression
- Baby blues are lasting too long. If you are still feeling down in the dumps and moody after a few weeks, you may have PPD.
- Have you stopped enjoying things? If activities you love, time with friends, or regular affection with your partner are no longer appealing to you, take a step back. If you have lost interest in doing things you love, this could be a sign of PPD.
- You are feeling sad, worthless, and guilty all the time. You are sad about being a mother, and constantly doubt yourself.
- Continual trouble sleeping is a sign of PPD. You should be able to relax and nap when the baby is napping, or when they finally drift off to sleep at night. Maybe the opposite is true and you’re sleeping all the time. This spells trouble.
- You are not bonding with your baby.
- You can’t really eat, sleep, or focus due to overwhelming sadness.
- You are feeling irritable and crying for no reason.
- Loss of energy and motivation, even taking care of your baby
This is just a sampling of behaviors that could indicate postpartum depression.
Should you have any thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, get help immediately. Contact All About Women or a trusted friend. There are new medications specifically for PPD plus others to help manage the symptoms.
Ways to Cope With Postpartum Depression
If you recognize you may be dealing with PPD, there are some proactive ways to cope with what’s happening to you.
This is a once in a lifetime period to bond and nurture your baby. Try some of these tips to help cope with postpartum depression:
- Ask for help; help with the baby, household chores, groceries, or anything that seems overwhelming.
- Talk with someone. Speak with one of our physicians, your best friend, spouse, or a trusted relative and explain how you are feeling. Sometimes saying things out loud can change a negative pattern.
- Go outside in the sunshine. Take the baby for a walk. Even this short bit of exercise may lift your mood.
- Find a trusted babysitter, and go out to dinner with your partner or friends. Use this time to relieve stress.
Call All About Women OB/GYN at (703) 437-0001 to schedule your appointment at our women’s health clinic in Reston and Leesburg today if you suspect you may have postpartum depression and need help overcoming the symptoms.