How Is Postpartum Depression Diagnosed
There is not a specific test that diagnoses postpartum depression. Your healthcare provider will evaluate you at your postpartum visit. This visit may include discussing your health history, how youâve felt since delivery, a physical exam, pelvic exam and lab tests. Many providers schedule visits at two or three weeks postpartum to screen for depression. This ensures you get the help you need as soon as possible.
They may do a depression screening or ask you a series of questions to assess if you have postpartum depression. They’ll ask how you’re feeling and how your baby is doing. Be open and honest with your provider to ensure they get an accurate picture of your emotions and thoughts. They can help distinguish if your feelings are typical or symptoms of postpartum depression.
Your healthcare provider may order a blood test because postpartum depression can cause symptoms similar to many thyroid conditions.
Remember, your healthcare provider is there to support you and make sure you are healthy, so be honest with them. There is no judgment, and you arenât alone in your feelings.
Postpartum Depression In Men
While postpartum depression mainly affects the mother, fathers may also exhibit paternal postpartum depression. This condition may occur more gradually in men within the first 12 months of a childs life than in women who experience it sooner.
While men may cope with their symptoms differently than women do, postpartum depression in men produces similar symptoms.
The symptoms that men may experience include:
- and Violent and angry behavior
Treatment Of Postpartum Depression Is Critical
If you or someone you know is showing signs of postpartum depression , seek help right away. Left untreated, PDD can seriously harm a mothers health. She may not eat well or lack the energy to care for her child. She may even start to think about hurting herself or her baby. Experts have also noted behavioral problems and developmental delays in infants whose mothers have PDD.
Some women, though, are too embarrassed to seek treatment. After giving birth, they think they should be feel joy, not sadness. But, as noted, postpartum depression is a common condition affecting more than 10 percent of mothers. You are not alone.
Treatment for postpartum depression is counseling, antidepressant medicine, or both:
- Counseling/Talk Therapy involves talking one-on-one with a mental health professional. The goal is to help the patient understand their feelings and to develop coping skills. Groups sessions are also a possible form of treatment.
- Antidepressant medications act on the chemicals in the brain that affect mood and its regulation. These medications are generally considered safe to use during breastfeeding, but a woman should talk to her health care provider about the risks and benefits to both herself and her baby.
In addition, support from the new mothers spouse, friends and family are also very important. They can encourage her to talk with a health professional, offer emotional support, and help with caring for the baby or the home.
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How Can I Help A Loved One
Postpartum depression can be a difficult experience for everyone. Most people expect the arrival of a child to be happy and joyful, and postpartum depression is none of those things. Its important to know that postpartum depression is no ones fault, but you can play a big role in a loved ones recovery.
Here are some tips on supporting a loved one who experiences postpartum depression:
How Depression Affects Fathers
Some fathers also report symptoms of depression. To better understand the experiences of fathers, PRAMS implemented a PRAMS for Dads pilot project. The pilot projectexternal icon in Georgia found 1 in 10 fathers reported depressive symptoms since the birth of their new baby. Studies such as PRAMS for Dads can help quantify mens health behaviors and service needs.
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Couple Relationship And Postnatal Depression
Postnatal depression can put an enormous strain on any relationship, even when the partner is patient, loving and supportive. Many couples experiencing PND can sometimes believe their relationship had deteriorated. However, relational strain can improve once the mothers PND is treated.Suggestions for a couple dealing with PND include:
- Learn together about PND.
- helpline for support on .
- Go to the doctor yourself for information and advice if the mother initially refuses to go and you are concerned about her risks with PND.
Can Ppd Affect Your Baby
Yes. PPD can make it hard for you to care for yourself and your baby. This is why its important to treat PPD as soon as possible. If PPD is untreated:
- You may skip your postpartum checkups and not follow instructions from your health care provider.
- You may find it hard to bond with your baby.
- Your baby may not breastfeed long. PPD may make it hard for you and your baby to get used to breastfeeding. Breast milk is the best food for your baby through the first year of life.
- Your baby may not get medical care he needs. PPD may make it hard for you to take care of your baby if shes sick. You may not see health problems in your baby that need quick attention and care. It may be hard for you to get your baby regular well-baby care, like vaccinations. Vaccinations help protect your baby from harmful infections.
- Your baby may have learning, behavior and development problems and mental health conditions later in life.
Getting treatment for PPD can help you feel better and be able to care for your baby. If you think you have PPD, tell your provider.
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How Do I Know If I Have Baby Blues Or Postpartum Depression
Many people have baby blues after giving birth. Baby blues and postpartum depression have similar symptoms. However, symptoms of baby blues last about 10 days and are less intense. With postpartum depression, the symptoms last weeks or months, and the symptoms are more severe.
You may have the baby blues if you:
- Have crying spells.
- Have trouble sleeping.
- Have sudden mood changes.
Remember, it doesn’t hurt to share your symptoms with your provider. They can assess if you need treatment for your symptoms.
Symptoms Of Peripartum Depression
Symptoms of Peripartum Depression include:5
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Crying for no reason
- Lack of interest in the baby, not feeling bonded to the baby, or feeling very anxious about/around the baby
- Feelings of being a bad mother
- Fear of harming the baby or oneself
A woman experiencing peripartum depression usually has several of these symptoms, and the symptoms and their severity may change. These symptoms may cause new mothers to feel isolated, guilty, or ashamed. To be diagnosed with peripartum depression, symptoms must begin during pregnancy or within four weeks following delivery.
Many women with peripartum depression also experience symptoms of anxiety. One study found that nearly two-thirds of women with peripartum depression also had an anxiety disorder.6
While there is no specific diagnostic test for peripartum depression, it is a real illness that should be taken seriously. Any pregnant woman or new mother who experiences the symptoms of peripartum depression should seek evaluation by a medical professional an internal medicine doctor or an OB-GYN, who can make referrals to a psychiatrist or other mental health professional. Assessment should include a psychiatric evaluation and a medical evaluation to rule out physical problems that may have symptoms similar to depression .
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Ppd
You may have PPD if you have five or more signs or symptoms that last longer than 2 weeks. Signs of a condition are things someone else can see or know about you, like you have a rash or youre coughing. Symptoms are things you feel yourself that others cant see, like having a sore throat or feeling dizzy. Signs and symptoms of PPD include:
Changes in your feelings:
Changes in your everyday life:
- Having little interest in things you normally like to do
- Feeling tired all the time
- Eating a lot more or a lot less than is normal for you
- Gaining or losing weight
- Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
Changes in how you think about yourself or your baby:
- Having trouble bonding with your baby
- Thinking about hurting yourself or your baby
- Thinking about suicide
If you think you have signs or symptoms of PPD, call your health care provider right away. There are things you and your provider can do to help you feel better. If youre worried about hurting yourself or your baby, call emergency services at 911.
Who Is At Risk
Any new mother can experience symptoms of peripartum depression or other mood disorder. Women are at increased risk of depression during or after pregnancy if they have previously experienced depression or other mood disorders, if they are experiencing particularly stressful life events in addition to the pregnancy, or if they do not have the support of family and friends.
Research suggests that rapid changes in sex and stress hormones and thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy and after delivery have a strong effect on moods and may contribute to peripartum depression. Other factors include physical changes related to pregnancy, changes in relationships and at work, worries about parenting and lack of sleep.
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What Are The Types Of Postpartum Depression
There are three different types of postpartum mood disorders:
Postpartum blues or baby blues
The baby blues affect between 50% and 75% of people after delivery. If you’re experiencing the baby blues, you will have frequent, prolonged bouts of crying for no apparent reason, sadness and anxiety. The condition usually begins in the first week after delivery. Although the experience is unpleasant, the condition usually subsides within two weeks without treatment. The best thing you can do is find support and ask for help from friends, family or your partner.
Postpartum depression is a far more serious condition than the baby blues, affecting about 1 in 7 new parents. If you’ve had postpartum depression before, your risk increases to 30% each pregnancy. You may experience alternating highs and lows, frequent crying, irritability and fatigue, as well as feelings of guilt, anxiety and inability to care for your baby or yourself. Symptoms range from mild to severe and may appear within a week of delivery or gradually, even up to a year later. Although symptoms can last several months, treatment with psychotherapy or antidepressants is very effective.
British Columbia Specific Information
After delivery or adoption of a child, it is common to experience some symptoms of postpartum depression. There are a number of resources available to help you and your family cope with postpartum depression. Visit Healthy Families BC – Coping with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, or BC Womens Hospital and Health Centre Self-care Program for Women with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety .
You may also contact the Pacific Postpartum Support Society toll-free at 1-855-255-7999 or at 604-255-7999 in the lower mainland Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The Support Society is also available by text at 604-256-8088 Wednesday to Friday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Visit Pacific Postpartum Support Society for additional information.
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Postpartum Depression: Who Is At Risk
Many women imagine new motherhood as a time of total fulfillment, days filled with mother-infant bonding and boundless joy. In reality, however, many women experience significant mood changes following childbirth. Between 50 and 85% of new mothers experience a brief postpartum period of tearfulness and anxiety, termed the maternity blues. But some 10 to 15% of women experience postpartum depression, or PPD, a longer-lasting and more pervasive type of mood disorder.
Since postpartum depression can have a devastating impact on the experience of being a new mother and may have significant consequences for the child, it is important to understand which women are at greatest risk for PPD. All women are vulnerable to postpartum depression, regardless of age, marital status, education level, or socioeconomic status. However, there may be certain factors that increase a womans chance of suffering from postpartum depression.
Based on a recent meta-analysis of studies assessing risk factors for postpartum illness, Cheryl Beck has created the Postpartum Depression Predictors Inventory, a list of 13 variables that may be used to identify women at risk for postpartum depression either during pregnancy or soon after delivery . Ten of those 13 have been shown to be reliable predictors, in many cases, of postpartum depression:
- Single marital status
- Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
- Lower socioeconomic status
Treatments For Postnatal Depression
Postnatal depression can be lonely, distressing and frightening, but support and effective treatments are available.
- self-help things you can try yourself include talking to your family and friends about your feelings and what they can do to help, making time for yourself to do things you enjoy, resting whenever you get the chance, getting as much sleep as you can at night, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet
- psychological therapy a GP may be able to recommend a self-help course or may refer you for a course of therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy
- antidepressants these may be recommended if your depression is more severe or other treatments have not helped your doctor can prescribe a medicine that’s safe to take while breastfeeding
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What Can I Do About It
Postpartum depression can be a very difficult experience. Becoming a new parent is hard enoughand the challenges added by depression can seem overwhelming. Its important to remember that there is no such thing as a perfect pregnancy, perfect birth, perfect baby, or perfect parent. You are doing the best you can. And with care and support, you can recover and enjoy time with your family.
Effects Of Postpartum Depression On The Mother
Becoming a new mother is often hard, but those difficulties are magnified when a woman develops postpartum depression. The effects of postpartum depression on the mother are probably the hardest felt she is the one experiencing the side effects of not only her mental condition, but the physical experience of pregnancy and giving birth and the emotional stresses of caring for a newborn or making an adoption plan all at the same time.
While every woman is affected by postpartum depression in a different way, some of the short-term effects of postpartum depression on a mother include:
- Mood swings
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
These side effects of postpartum depression can obviously make caring for a newborn difficult, should a woman choose to parent her child. Left untreated, postpartum depression dangers can grow into long-term problems. A new mother may find that depression:
- Makes it difficult to bond with her child
- Causes her to withdraw from family and friends
- Prevents her from enjoying the activities and hobbies she used to
- Makes her feel like a bad mother
- Causes anxiety and panic attacks
- Makes her want to harm herself or her baby
If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or your child, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255) right away.
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Postpartum Depression In Adoptive Parents
Adoptive parents can also experience postpartum depression. Research has shown that this often has to do with the unmet expectations that adoptive parents place on themselves or the child when the baby or child is placed in their home.
Often, adoptive parents feel they do not get the same support from friends, family, and society as birth parents expect. All of these factors contribute to an emotional state that can become depression resembling postpartum depression.
The signs of postpartum depression in adoptive parents are similar to those in birth parents, including irritability or changes in mood, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, guilt, shame, and uncertainty. Like birthparents, adoptive parents also lose interest in their usual social or physical activities.
The postpartum depression symptoms in adoptive parents not only affect the parents themselves but can also affect the childs emotional well-being.
What Are Ways To Cope With Postpartum Depression
It’s OK to feel overwhelmed. Parenting is full of ups and downs and having a baby isn’t easy. If you have depression, you don’t have to suffer alone. Your healthcare provider can help find a treatment that works for you.
Here are some things you can do to help cope with postpartum depression:
- Find someone to talk to â a therapist, friend, family member or someone who will listen to you and help you.
- Join a support group for new parents.
- Try to eat healthily and find time for exercise.
- Prioritize rest for yourself.
- Go out with friends or talk to them on the phone.
- Find time for self-care and doing things you enjoy, like reading or other hobbies.
- Get help with household chores or errands.
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Where Can I Get Help
If you have symptoms of postpartum depression, get help right away. The sooner you get help, the sooner you will feel better. Start by talking to your health care provider . They can:
- Prescribe medicines to help you.
- Recommend that you see a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health worker for treatment.
- Do blood tests to make sure something else isn’t causing your symptoms.
If you don’t have a health care provider, you can get help online at:
- Postpartum Support International: You also can call them at 1-800-944-4773 or text Help to 800-944-4773 or 971-203-7773 .
If you are thinking about hurting yourself or your baby or if you hear or see things that aren’t there, get help right away.
- Go to the nearest emergency room.
- Contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255 or text or call 988. You also can contact them through their website.
- Contact the National Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the U.S., anytime, about any type of crisis.