Postpartum Depression

Throughout your pregnancy, hormones such as estrogen and progesterone are maintained at a high level. After birth, these hormones dramatically decrease and can affect a new mother’s emotional well-being. At least 50-80% of new mothers experience what are known as the “Baby Blues”. The Baby Blues can present as crying, tearfulness, irritability, exhaustion, anxiety, appetite loss, and headache. Baby Blues typically begin 3 to 5 days postpartum and can last a few weeks, but resolve on their own. Postpartum depression is distinguished from the Baby Blues by the severity, onset and persistence of symptoms. Postpartum depression typically emerges 6 to 12 weeks postpartum, but can present any time during the first year or after baby weans. Symptoms of postpartum depression include uncontrolled crying, memory loss, lack of interest in baby, feelings of guilt and inadequacy, fear of harming yourself or baby, unrelenting fatigue, and unrelenting anxiety. At least 10 to 20% of new moms experience postpartum depression. It is important to remember that postpartum mood disorders can present as depression, anxiety or even OCD. Fathers can suffer from postpartum depression as well and are at a higher risk if mom is diagnosed with a postpartum mood disorder. Symptoms for fathers include irritability, impulsivity, and feeling unable to find pleasure in anything. Postpartum psychosis is a rare, but serious, postpartum mood disorder. Occurring in 0.1-0.2% of new moms, postpartum psychosis is marked by strange behavior, hallucinations, delusions, severe insomnia, sever mood swings, intense anxiety, and thoughts of harming self or baby.

You may be at a higher risk for postpartum depression if you:
• have a history of depression
• have recently experienced a stressful life event
• lack adequate social supports
• have stress regarding childcare
• have a stressful relationship with baby’s father
• have a child with a difficult temperament

Postpartum mood disorders are highly treatable. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, please don’t suffer alone. Please call 781.979.3642 to speak with a maternal newborn social worker at Melrose Wakefield Hospital.