Signs and Symptoms

Depression1

  • Baby Blues– Signs include weepiness, irritability, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Resolves or dramatically improves the first three weeks after childbirth. Up to 80% of women will experience the baby blues.
  • Depression/ Anxiety – Symptoms include feeling anxious, agitated, sleeping too much or difficulty “sleeping when the baby sleeps”, excessive worrying, tearfulness, irritability, anger, guilt and shame, feeling disconnected from your family and/or baby, appetite changes, difficulty concentrating, and possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself. (10-25%)
  • Panic – Signs include feeling worried, anxious or very nervous most of the time. You also may experience recurring panic attacks, which include heart palpitations, shortness of breath and/or chest pain, nausea/vomiting or fear of dying. (15%)
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder – This can occur during pregnancy or following a childbirth which is perceived as traumatic and usually involves distressing memories, irritability, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, and efforts to avoid reminders of the trauma. Symptoms may be related to a prior traumatic experience or the birth itself. (3-5%)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Symptoms include intrusive and disturbing thoughts and/or images of harm coming to the baby, as well as a sense of horror about having these thoughts. This usually includes a preoccupation with keeping the baby safe through repetitive actions to reduce the fear and obsessions. Women disturbed by these thoughts are very unlikely to ever act on them. (3-5%)
  • Postpartum Psychosis – Usually occurs within the first few days or weeks after birth and includes having strange beliefs, hallucinations, irritability and agitation, inability to sleep, rapid mood changes, and poor decision-making. Women with psychosis are not disturbed by the nature of their thoughts or find them unusual. Women with psychosis are at significant risk for harming themselves and/or their infants, and need immediate crisis intervention. Occurs in 1-3 per 1000 births (.1-.3%)
  • For women with bi-polar disorder. Women with bi-polar disorder are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing psychosis, particularly if they are not taking medication and are extremely sleep-deprived. It is important to develop a wellness plan with a practitioner familiar with postpartum illnesses. Having adequate support is a must.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider right away and/or call Postpartum Support International at (800) 944-4PPD (944-4773)  www.postpartum.net. PSI is the largest perinatal support agency in the U.S. PSI’s toll-free WarmLine (English & Spanish) serves over 1,000 callers a month and is staffed by a volunteer team of PSI trained responders who rapidly refer callers to appropriate local resources, including emergency services.