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Postpartum depression (PPD) is classified as having similar symptoms to those of the baby blues, but they can begin any time within the first year and last indefinitely if not treated. They usually set in after the first few weeks, not immediately, like baby blues, although they can start right away. And they often are severe enough that they hinder the way a mom is able to function. Of course, this means you need to see your doctor.
Some women also get "scary thoughts" in which they think they might harm the baby or themselves - accidentally or on purpose. Even though they know for certain that these thoughts are illogical and they would never act on them, they can be so terrifying that women are afraid to even mention them. In severe cases, women may be so frightened that they avoid handling their babies.
While it is normal for a woman to get "the blues" after delivering a child, those feelings normally go away within a couple of weeks. When feelings of sadness, irritability, mood swings, and insomnia persist longer than normal, it may be postpartum depression. Women who have experienced depression before pregnancy are known to be more prone to postpartum depression. In rare cases, women may develop what is known as "postpartum psychosis," which may cause her to harm her baby or herself.
Postpartum depression is a serious illness that can occur in the first few months up to a year after giving birth. Women experiencing postpartum depression feel sad, hopeless and worthless and have trouble bonding with and caring for their baby. In addition the woman may have thoughts about hurting herself or hurting the baby. This is a serious condition that needs to be treated by a medical team.
Postpartum depression is a type of major depressive disorder that occurs in about 10-15 % of women, usually within 1 month after delivery, but in some cases up to 1 year later. Many women, approx 50 % will experience the “baby blues”- feeling tired, irritable, having trouble sleeping. However, with proper sleep and support, the baby blues usually goes away within a few weeks. In postpartum depression, a woman continues to feel depressed even after a month. She can’t sleep although the baby might be resting, and may find herself overly plagued with negative thoughts. Although not every women will have these types of thoughts, some of these may include “I’m never going to be a good mom” or “I don’t think I can handle this”. In some cases, she may feel disconnected from the baby. In severe cases woman may have thoughts of wanting to hurt themselves or the baby. When a woman has thoughts of harming herself or her baby, it is a medical emergency requiring immediate attention.
Feeling sad, anxious, or depressed for a few days after childbirth is normal -- doctors call it “the baby blues.” But some 10% of new mothers experience postpartum depression (PPD), a more serious mood disorder. Women with PPD have trouble performing ordinary daily tasks because of feelings of anxiety, depression, and despair.
Approximately 80 percent of new mothers experience mood swings that typically occur days after giving birth to their babies. These "baby blues" generally subside in a few weeks, as hormone levels return to normal.
However, if symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, the mother may be among an estimated 10 percent of moms that are diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD).
The symptoms of PDD are the same as those as for major depression - including thoughts of harms of harming the baby, or an unusual fixation on the baby's health.
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.