Approximately 80-85% of women have postpartum “blues” which is defined as feeling overwhelmed, irritable, impatient, as well as having moments of emotional hypersensitivity, sadness and crying. These experiences are normal and thought to be due to the hormonal changed that accompany delivery. However, if these symptoms last for more than two weeks, it is advisable to seek help because they might be signs of Perinatal Depression.
Perinatal Depression is a more serious condition. It is defined as clinical depression around the time of pregnancy. It affects up to 1 in 5 women, making it one of the most common complications of pregnancy.
Common symptoms to look out for are:
- Feeling depressed, down or irritable
- Not able to enjoy things that are usually enjoyable
- Major changes in appetite, or significant weight gain or loss
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Major changes in energy level
- Unable to concentrate or make decisions
- Feeling worthless or excessively guilty
- Abnormal thoughts of death or of killing yourself
You may also notice that you are:
- Feeling very anxious, especially about the pregnancy or the safety and health of your baby
- Having confusing thoughts about something harming the baby or doing something to harm the baby
- Having anger or rage that is not normal for you
- Not allowing anyone else to care for your baby
- Having difficulty with breastfeeding
- Feeling as though you are not bonding with your baby
In some severe cases, women may experience Postpartum Psychosis where they also experience delusions, hallucinations, and other psychotic symptoms. This is very rare, affecting only 1-2 women per 1000 women giving birth, but it is very serious and requires immediate medical attention.