The birth of a baby can trigger a wealth of emotions – joy, excitement, even fear. It can also result in something you were not expecting…depression. Postpartum depression has a spectrum of presentations, ranging from “baby blues” to depression to psychosis. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimate that 70 to 85 percent of women will experience the baby blues after childbirth. Symptoms will usually appear within three to seven days after delivery, but can occur up to one year afterwards.
Signs & Symptoms of Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression
A sense of unworthiness, inadequacy, failure or guilt
Irritability and impatience
Sadness, loneliness, confusion, forgetfulness
Tiredness, inability to sleep
Sign & Symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis
Visual or auditory hallucinations
Delusional thinking (e.g. about infant’s death, denial of birth, or killing the baby)
Delirium and/or mania
Postpartum depression affects women of all ages, races, and economic statuses. It can develop after the birth of any child, not just your first. However, if you experience depression after one pregnancy, your chance of experiencing depression after a subsequent pregnancy is between 50 and 100 percent. A personal history of depression also increases your risk.
When to seek medical advice
If you’re feeling depressed after you baby’s birth, you may be reluctant or embarrassed to admit it. But it’s important to tell your healthcare provider. Early intervention can lead to a more rapid recovery. If you suspect that you or someone you know is developing postpartum psychosis, seek medical attention immediately. Don’t wait and hope for improvement, as postpartum psychosis may lead to life-threatening thoughts or behaviors.