You may not know it, but experiencing some degree of depression is 100 percent normal after giving birth. Up to 80 percent of mothers experience the “baby blues” — feelings of sadness and despair due to the fatigue and stress of their new lives as parents.
But, sometimes, these baby blues become something more: postpartum depression. Unlike expected postpartum difficulties, postpartum depression does not go away on its own. If you are experiencing postpartum depression, you will need medical intervention to get back to your normal self.
But, how do you know if you have postpartum depression rather than the normal “baby blues”? What are the signs of postpartum depression to look out for in the period after giving birth?
The best person to talk to about the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression will always be your doctor. While we’ve provided helpful information in this article about what postpartum depression is like, it is not intended to be and should not be taken as medical advice. You cannot diagnose yourself with a list of symptoms or an online postpartum depression quiz; only a doctor can determine if you are suffering from a mood disorder, so please reach out to one right away.
In the meantime, you can learn a little more about the signs of postpartum depression after pregnancy below.
What are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?
First things first: It’s important to understand that every woman’s experience with postpartum depression will be unique. No two postpartum depression cases are the same.
That said, there are some common signs of postpartum depression that doctors use to diagnose women suffering from difficult emotions after their children are born. These postpartum depression symptoms after pregnancy include:
- Agitation or irritability
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Feeling like you are withdrawn or unconnected
- Lack of pleasure or interest in most or all activities
- Loss of concentration
- Loss of energy
- Problems doing tasks at home or at work
- Significant anxiety
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Trouble sleeping
- Mood swings
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- And more
One of the biggest signs and symptoms of postpartum depression is a woman simply not feeling like “herself” for weeks at a time. While the baby blues typically last only a few days or weeks while a mother is adjusting to her new reality, postpartum depression is indicated by these feelings lasting for two weeks or longer. It’s not unusual to experience postpartum depression symptoms after six months or more, if the condition is left untreated.
If you think you may be experiencing some of the symptoms of postpartum depression after childbirth, please reach out to your doctor right away. They can diagnose whatever you are feeling and help you get the treatment you need to start feeling like yourself again.
What Does Postpartum Depression Feel Like?
There’s more to postpartum depression than just the symptoms you experience. So, how do you feel when you have postpartum depression?
Again, every woman’s experience is different. Some women feel exhausted and worn-out due to their postpartum depression, while some women feel anxious and tightly wound during this mood disorder. For most women, what happens during postpartum depression makes them feel like they are bad mother s— like they are not doing what they should to give their new children the proper start to life, whether they are parenting or have placed their child for adoption. They may have difficulty bonding with their children or, in the worst cases, have thoughts about harming themselves or their children.
If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-237-8255 right away.
In addition, postpartum depression can make it difficult for women to maintain relationships with their loved ones. They may withdraw from their spouses, friends and family. Women suffering from postpartum depression may stop doing the activities and hobbies they used to, which adds another degree of sadness to their mental state.
In general, postpartum depression makes a woman feel lost, confused and worthless. It’s a difficult mental state to emerge from on her own, which is why she needs to contact a medical professional if she ever experiences any signs of postpartum depression after giving birth or bringing her new child home.
How Do You Know if You Have Postpartum Depression?
If you think your post-birth baby blues are indicative of something more serious, you may be asking, “How do I know if I have postpartum depression?”
Before you go searching for a postpartum depression quiz or frantically researching the different signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, remember this: Only a medical professional can properly diagnose any mental health condition. Medical conditions cannot be diagnosed over the internet, and you cannot receive the help you need from internet sources if you are truly experiencing a mental health crisis.
However, there are a few major warning signs that indicate your baby blues have the potential to be a serious case of postpartum depression:
- Your symptoms have lasted for more than two weeks.
- You have thoughts of harming yourself or your child.
- Your depression has interfered with your ability to take care of yourself or your child.
If you are wondering how to tell if you have postpartum depression, please reach out to your medical professional right away. They can get you the help you need in this vulnerable time after birth.