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Do I Have Postpartum Depression?

Many moms endure the baby blues, but how do you know if you're among the 10 to 20 percent of women who suffer from postpartum depression (PPD)? While the baby blues can last from a few days to a few weeks and can include symptoms such as crying spells, anxiety, inability to sleep, and quick fluctuations in mood, PPD lingers for much longer and rarely seems to lift. Here, Joel Evans, MD, coauthor of The Whole Pregnancy Handbook (Gotham), explains the risk factors and signs of postpartum depression.

  • You experienced depression during your pregnancy. (Nearly 50 percent of women who suffer from PPD do.)
  • You suffered PPD after a previous pregnancy.
  • You experience loss of appetite and insomnia, and you're overly tearful. Yet, unlike the baby blues, these conditions last longer than two or three weeks.
  • You feel little connection with your child.
  • You have fears of harming yourself or your child.

If you suspect you're suffering from PPD, seek help. "Lifestyle changes, such as sleeping when the baby sleeps and getting more omega-3 fats, can help, and there are also medications to ease the depression," Dr. Evans says. Good sources of omega-3 fats include oily fish such as salmon and lake trout.

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the March 2008 issue of American Baby magazine.

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