Are mood changes common after childbirth?
After having a baby, many women have mood swings. One minute they feel happy, the next minute they start to cry. They may feel a little depressed, have a hard time concentrating, lose their appetite, or find that they can’t sleep well even when the baby is asleep. These symptoms usually start about 3 to 4 days after delivery and may last several days.
If you’re a new mother and have any of these symptoms, you have what are called the “baby blues.” The “blues” are considered a normal part of early motherhood and usually go away within 10 days after delivery. However, some women have worse symptoms or symptoms that last longer. This is called “postpartum depression.”
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is an illness, like diabetes or heart disease. It can be treated with therapy, support networks, and medicines such as antidepressants. Here are some symptoms of postpartum depression:
- Loss of interest or pleasure in life
- Loss of appetite
- Less energy and motivation to do things
- A hard time falling asleep or staying asleep
- Sleeping more than usual
- Increased crying or tearfulness
- Feeling worthless, hopeless or overly guilty
- Feeling restless, irritable or anxious
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Feeling like life isn’t worth living
- Having thoughts about hurting yourself
- Worrying about hurting your baby
Although many women get depressed right after childbirth, some women don’t feel “down” until several weeks or months later. Depression that occurs within 6 months of childbirth maybe postpartum depression.
Who gets postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is more likely if you had any of the following:
- Previous postpartum depression
- Depression not related to pregnancy
- Severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- A difficult marriage
- Few family members or friends to talk to or depend on
- Stressful life events during the pregnancy or after the childbirth
Why do women get postpartum depression?
The exact cause is not known. Hormone levels change during pregnancy and right after childbirth. Those hormone changes may produce chemical changes in the brain that play a part in causing depression.
How long does postpartum depression last?
It is hard to say. Some women feel better within a few weeks, but others feel depressed or “not themselves” for many months. Women who have more severe symptoms of depression or who have had depression in the past may take longer to get well. Just remember that help is available and that you can get better.