How do I know if I have depression during or after pregnancy?

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The reason depression is challenging to recognize and diagnose during pregnancy and postpartum is that the symptoms that doctors normally use to make this diagnosis -- sleep, appetite, energy and concentration -- are almost always altered during pregnancy and postpartum. This is one reason almost two-thirds of women experiencing an episode of depression in pregnancy are missed or misdiagnosed.

One screening tool is the Edinburgh postnatal depression scale. It is a 10-item questionnaire that was developed for postpartum women, but the questions apply to pregnant women as well. One of the best features of this screen is the focus on anxiety symptoms. Many women are surprised to hear that anxiety is often a primary symptom of depression during and after pregnancy.

When you are pregnant or after you have a baby, you may be depressed and not know it. Some normal changes during and after pregnancy can cause symptoms similar to those of depression. But if you have any of the following symptoms of depression for more than 2 weeks, call your doctor:

Feeling restless or moody Feeling sad, hopeless, and overwhelmed Crying a lot Having no energy or motivation Eating too little or too much Sleeping too little or too much Having trouble focusing or making decisions Having memory problems Feeling worthless and guilty Losing interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy Withdrawing from friends and family Having headaches, aches and pains, or stomach problems that don't go away

Your doctor can figure out if your symptoms are caused by depression or something else.

This answer is based on source information from National Women's Health Information Center.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.