Many women show signs of postpartum depression after giving birth. While it is natural to have mood swings due to hormonal shifts, the intensity and duration can be the differnece between mild melancholia and a severe depressive episode.
Postpartum sadness and a typical episode can be similar in nature. The biggest difference being signs of postpartum depression usually occur within 4 weeks after giving birth to a child. Symptoms can be as mild as having some sad feelings or a loss of pleasure in usual activities to more severe cases of psychosis and child endangerment.
Christina*, came to me about 8 months after the birth of her second child. She was teary and complained of lethargy, lack of interest in her usual social acitivities and a noticeable increase in frustration toward her older 4 year old son. Wanting to keep her son active and going on playdates was a huge chore for her. "Thinking about planning a playdate and having to sit and make conversation completely overwhelms me." she complained.
Although she could not point to a date when these symptoms began, it was clear to me Christina was showing signs of postpartum depression. After several sessions of discusssing treatment strategies, Christina agreed to see her doctor and started on anti-depressant medications. Within a few weeks, her mood lifted and she becoming more active and tolerant of her son's bad behaviors. Christina was suffering from significant despair after the birth of her son.
If you recently gave birth and find yourself suffering from any of the symptoms below, please contact your doctor or a counselor for further evaluation and treatment:
- depressed mood for much of the day, nearly every day
- feelings of emptiness, or hopelessness
- diminished interest or pleasure in usual activities
- significant weight loss or weight gain
- insomnia or hypersomnia
- loss of concentration
- recurring thought of suicide with a specific plan or intent