Common Signs of Postpartum Depression
If you suspect that you or someone you love is suffering from postpartum depression it’s important to educate yourself about the different signs. This helps to identify patterns which can be helpful to physicians and mental health professionals when it comes to diagnosing the severity and type of PPD the woman is suffering from.
It’s important to remember that only physicians and mental health professionals can make a true diagnosis of postpartum depression and its many forms.That’s because many of the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression are very broad and can mimic symptoms of other conditions.
While postpartum depression can affect different women in different ways, there are some clear signs to look for. If you suspect someone is suffering from postpartum depression, use the below guide to look for specific signs of postpartum depression.
Changes in Personality and Behaviors
The first thing to identify when it comes to looking for signs of postpartum depression is any sort of noticeable and concerning change in personality, mood and behavior. These may come and go or they may be chronic and long-lasting.
If you notice several of the below signs and patterns in your loved one, then this may be an indication of postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression can severely affect a woman’s emotional wellbeing. Look for the following emotional signs of postpartum depression in your loved one:
- Excessive crying for long periods of time for seemingly no reason
- Drastic changes in mood that go from calm to irritable frequently
- Easily angered or irritated
- Exhibiting intense anxiety, worry and fear that hold her back from performing daily tasks
- Expressing feelings of shame, guilt or hopelessness
- Describing feelings of extreme sadness and despair
Postpartum depression not only affects the mother’s emotions but her mental state as well. Here are some common mental signs of postpartum depression:
- Seeming unable to focus or concentrate
- Forgetting things easily
- Becoming easily distracted
- Being indecisive and unable to make decisions about things
- Thinking she is to blame for however she is feeling and acting
Due to the emotional and mental stress of postpartum depression, women can also experience physical symptoms. Take notice if you hear of the mother complaining of any of the following physical symptoms:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Stomach pains
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of energy
- Change in appetite whether it’s eating too much or too little
- Unable to sleep
Perhaps some of the most telling signs of postpartum depression in a loved one is their sudden and dramatic change in behavior. If you feel that your loved one has now become a different person, then this could be a serious sign of postpartum depression. Look for the following changes in behavior as signs of postpartum depression:
- Withdrawing from her partner, friends and family
- Not wanting to be alone with the baby
- Not interested in caring for or bonding with the baby
- Not wanting to participate in her usual activities such as exercise and hobbies
- Displaying outbursts of anger or rage directed at others
- Avoiding tasks and responsibilities
Differentiating Between PPD and Baby Blues
If you notice signs of postpartum depression, be sure to first consider the level of which the woman may be experiencing these symptoms. Postpartum baby blues is a very common set of symptoms felt by many mothers after giving birth. Symptoms like crying, tiredness and restlessness are generally to be expected after experiencing childbirth.
When symptoms last longer than a couple weeks and worsen or intensify to the point of it affecting her quality of life, then you may be seeing signs of something more severe than the baby blues. Making this distinction between the two will help you and your loved one to be able to seek the appropriate treatment as soon as possible before the condition worsens.
Extreme Signs of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression has other more severe types which involve extreme behaviors and emotions. The following are extreme signs of postpartum depression that may indicate PPD types like postpartum panic disorder, postpartum OCD, postpartum PTSD and postpartum psychosis.
- Obsessive and repetitive behaviors such as cleaning and changing the baby’s clothes
- Suffering from “panic attacks” with physical symptoms like racing heartbeat, shortness of breath and tightening chest
- Intrusive thoughts of harming the baby and being horrified by these thoughts
- Fearing that she is losing control over her thoughts or that she is going crazy
Signs of Psychosis
- Hallucinations, delusions and confusion
- Extreme paranoia and suspicions
- Expressing thoughts of self-harm
- Expressing thoughts of harm toward the baby
- Any suicidal thoughts or actions
- Any thoughts or actions about killing the baby
If you notice any of these extreme signs, inform a physician immediately as only a doctor can or mental health professional make a diagnosis.
What to Do Next
If you’ve noticed several of the above signs of postpartum depression, then here are some tips for what to do next.
- Take note of signs
- Record dates and times
- Watch for patterns and compulsions
- Assess her awareness of her own behaviors
- Take a PPD screening test or quiz
- Make an appoint with your physician
- Ask about treatment options including medication and therapies
- Seek out support from support groups and online forums
With your help and support in watching for signs of postpartum depression, you can ensure your loved one gets the appropriate treatment she needs to recover from this terrible condition.