Today, Joanne Silberner has a piece on All Things Considered about postpartum depression and how surveys show that 1 in 7 new mothers in the U.S. have a prolonged period of overwhelming depression or anxiety after giving birth. She interviews one woman in the U.S. and one woman in Uganda who dealt with depression.
So here at the Baby Project, we were wondering how women who have just given birth can differentiate between the baby blues and postpartum depression — and when they should seek help.
According to the Mayo Clinic, baby blues symptoms only last a few days or a few weeks, and may include: mood swings, anxiety, sadness, irritability, crying, decreased concentration and having trouble sleeping. Silberner reports the symptoms typically come on a few days after birth and are gone by day 10.
Symptoms for postpartum depression are more severe, including: loss of appetite and weight change, insomnia, overwhelming fatigue, intense irritability and anger, loss of interest in sex, severe mood swings, difficulty bonding with the baby, withdrawal from family and friends and thoughts of harming yourself or the baby. Postpartum depression could last a year or more if it's left untreated. And it does have consequences: Studies have shown that children of mothers who had postpartum depression are more prone to behavior problems and are less successful in school, Silberner reports.
So when should you call your doctor?
Pick up the phone if the symptoms don't fade after two weeks and/or they get worse. You should also call if you're having a hard time caring for your baby or completing everyday tasks — and most importantly if you have any thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
It's also important to note that women who have a history of depression are more susceptible to postpartum depression.
Did you have the baby blues or postpartum depression? How did you handle it? And do you have tips for those who may face it?