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Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression can happen anytime within the first year after childbirth. A woman may have a number of symptoms, such as:
  • Sadness
  • Lack of energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
The difference between postpartum depression and the baby blues is that postpartum depression often affects a woman's well-being and keeps her from functioning well for a longer period.
Postpartum depression needs to be treated by a doctor. Counseling, support groups, and medicines are things that can help women experiencing this condition.
Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum psychosis is rare. It occurs in 1 or 2 out of every 1,000 births, and usually begins in the first six weeks postpartum. Women who have bipolar disorder or another psychiatric problem called schizoaffective disorder have a higher risk of developing this condition.
Symptoms may include:
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Obsessive thoughts about the baby.
In addition, a woman may have rapid mood swings, from depression to irritability to euphoria (unexplained feelings of happiness).

What Can I Do?

Some women don't tell anyone about their symptoms because they feel embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty about feeling depressed when they are supposed to be happy. They worry that they will be viewed as unfit parents. Perinatal depression can happen to any woman. It does not mean you are a bad or "not together" mom. You and your baby don't have to suffer. There is help.
Different types of individual and group "talk therapies" can help a woman with perinatal depression feel better and do better as a mom and as a person. Limited research suggests that many women with the condition improve when treated with antidepressant medicine. Your doctor can help you learn more about these options and decide which approach is best for you and your baby. The next section contains more detailed information about available treatments.
Speak to your doctor or midwife if you are having symptoms of depression while you are pregnant or after you deliver your baby. Your doctor or midwife can give you a questionnaire to test for depression and can also refer you to a mental health professional who specializes in treating this disorder.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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