Q: How can I tell if I have postpartum depression, or just some baby blues?
A: Almost all new moms experience some form of the baby blues, which can last from a few days to a few weeks while hormones settle down after giving birth. While this can include symptoms like crying spells (sometimes for no apparent reason!), anxiety, loss of sleep, and mood swings, postpartum depression is a more serious medical condition, which can linger for months and rarely seems to lift. Other signs of PPD include:
• Feeling little or no connection with your baby• Loss of appetite• Insomnia or restless sleep that doesn't go away• Excessive crying• Significant weight loss or gain• Feeling sad, hopeless, or guilty most of the time• Being too exhausted or unmotivated to do everyday activities• Having fears, thoughts, or visions of harming yourself or your baby
Although PPD can happen to anyone, it's more likely among women who experienced depression during pregnancy (nearly 50 percent of women who suffer from PPD did) or having PPD after a previous birth. If you think you have PPD (or your family is starting to express concern over your behavior) talk to your doctor ASAP. Sometimes just getting counseling and making certain lifestyle and diet changes (like sleeping when your baby does and eating more fish with mood-boosting omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and trout) can help. However, many women do require antidepressants to get the condition under control. --Allison Winn Scotch
Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the March 2008 issue of American Baby magazine. Updated 2009