In the first days after childbirth, about 8 out of 10 women will experience mood swings or mild depression, often called the "baby blues." It is considered normal for women to feel the baby blues for about 3 to 10 days after childbirth. These feelings usually go away in a week or two, and don't need to be treated.
But if your blues last longer than 2 weeks, or are more severe, you may have postpartum depression, which happens in about 10 to 15 out of 100 women. With postpartum depression, women commonly experience:
• Strong feelings of depression, anger, doubt, guilt or helplessness that seem to get worse over time,
• An inability to care for themselves or their baby,
• Change in appetite,
• Anxiety or panic attacks,
• Being intensely worried or concerned about the baby,
• Having little or no interest in the baby, or
• Thoughts of suicide.
These feelings can happen for many reasons, including:
• Hormonal changes,
• Anxiety about taking care of a new baby,
• Exhaustion from labor and lack of sleep,
• Feeling overwhelmed with life's circumstances,
• Having little or no help during the first few days after giving birth,
• An emotional let-down following the experience of childbirth, or
• Previous mental illness or depression.
If you have previously been treated for depression, or have experienced postpartum depression before, you are at higher risk for developing postpartum depression.
If you experience any of the symptoms of postpartum depression, and they persist or seem serious to you, then you should call your doctor right away. You may need additional treatment.