Postpartum Depression Symptoms
Postpartum depression by its very nature is a condition that affects each person differently and to a different degree. Some women experience rare but extreme cases of the condition known as postpartum psychosis, while some women experience a milder more short-term type called the baby blues.
Despite the fact that this condition affects different people in different ways, there are some clear symptoms that exhibit themselves when a woman is facing postpartum depression.
Common Symptoms of Postpartum “Baby Blues”
During the second and third weeks following pregnancy, it is common for women to experience postpartum “baby blues”. These include symptoms such as anxiety, crying, irritability, restlessness and tiredness. These are common feelings and are not necessarily an indication of a more severe type of postpartum depression. Though they can be challenging feelings to deal with, these typically go away within a few weeks and mostly likely do not require treatment.
When these milder “baby blues” symptoms do not fade and instead intensify or worsen within the 3-4 weeks following pregnancy, this could be an indication of the more severe postpartum depression.
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
Postpartum depression symptoms are similar to any other type of depression that occurs during any other time in life. There are some additional symptoms that include specific feelings toward or about the baby that are characteristic of postpartum depression.
Here are some of the most common and typical symptoms of postpartum depression:
During postpartum depression, women most commonly experience emotional symptoms that can be described as how she is feeling. These emotional symptoms include:
- Excessive and uncontrollable crying
- Persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness
- Feeling numb or empty
- Extremes in mood swings
- Irritability and restlessness
- Feeling anger and rage
- Becoming easily frustrated
- Anxiety and fear
- Feeling guilt and shame
In addition to emotional symptoms, or how the woman is feeling, there are also shifts in her thoughts and mentality during postpartum depression. Here are some of the mental symptoms of postpartum depression:
- Inability to concentrate
- Trouble remembering things such as details
- Difficulty making decisions
- Doubting her ability to care for her baby
- Thinking things are too overwhelming to handle
- Thinking she has failed or is inadequate
Postpartum depression also manifests itself physically and creates symptoms that affect the body as well. Physical symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Changes in appetite such as eating too much or too little
- Trouble sleeping
- Fatigue and loss of energy
- Muscle aches and pains
- Stomach pains
Women suffering from postpartum depression also exhibit symptoms of behavioral changes. Often times, it may seem as though she is behaving as a different person. Here are some of the behavioral symptoms to expect with postpartum depression:
- Acting distant with her partner
- Withdrawing from friends and social activities
- Inability to form a bond with the new baby
- Unwilling to care for the baby out of fear of harming him or her
- Not able to enjoy time with friends and family
- Not wanting to be alone with the baby
- Exhibiting angry behavior toward others
Extreme Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
In some cases, postpartum depression symptoms intensify and worsen beyond what is listed above. There are other more severe types of postpartum depression that create a different set of additional symptoms.
These other types of postpartum depression include postpartum anxiety, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum panic disorder, postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder and postpartum psychosis.
Symptoms of Obsession, Panic and Trauma
Women experiencing severe cases of postpartum depression may experience a combination of obsessive, anxious and traumatic behaviors. These extreme symptoms may include:
- Extreme and debilitating anxiety and agitating
- Recurring panic attacks that include shortness of breath, chest tightening and heart palpitations
- Fears of dying, losing control or that she is going crazy
- Displaying repetitive obsessions such as bathing the baby and changing his or her clothes
- Intrusive thoughts of harming or killing the baby
- Feeling horrified and embarrassed by these thoughts
With all types of postpartum depression, except for postpartum psychosis, the woman is aware of her thoughts and behaviors and therefore actually acting upon harming or killing the baby is very unlikely.
These presence of these specific sets of symptoms can help doctors diagnose which type of postpartum depression the mother is experiencing. This is why it’s important to be aware of the details and patterns of postpartum depression symptoms in order to seek the appropriate treatment.
Symptoms of Psychosis
Postpartum psychosis is the most extreme type of PPD. It is rare but very serious. Postpartum psychosis forms shortly after giving birth – within 2 weeks or as little as 48 hours. The difference between postpartum psychosis and others types of PPD is that with postpartum psychosis, the woman isn’t aware that her actions and behaviors are psychotic.
Postpartum psychosis symptoms include:
- Experiencing hallucinations of things or sounds that aren’t there
- Becoming delusional with paranoid, suspicious or irrational beliefs
- Exhibiting extremely agitated or even violent behavior
- Becoming easily confused or disoriented
- Obsessing over the baby
- Being extremely fearful or anxious
- Displaying bizarre behaviors that are uncharacteristic of the individual
- Extreme and rapid mood swings
- Refusing to eat or sleep
- Taking self-harming actions
- Suicidal thoughts
- Suicidal attempts
- Thoughts of harming or killing her baby
Because postpartum psychosis presents a serious risk of suicide or infanticide, hospitalization usually is required to keep both the mother and baby safe.
If you or a loved one are exhibiting any of the above symptoms, then it is important to inform your physician immediately. You can also take a postpartum depression screening test to further help identify specific postpartum depression symptoms you have been most recently facing.