Mild moodiness and "blues" are very common after having a baby, but when symptoms are more than mild or last more than a few days, help should be sought. Below we have outlined the three separate characteristics and degrees of Postpartum mood disorders. It is important to understand that some forms of postpartum depression can be extremely serious for both mother and baby.
Postpartum 'blues' - the name most commonly used to describe the weeping and emotional instability which occurs during the first postpartum week include symptoms like:
The Baby blues, usually occur 1-3 days after the babys birth. This is fairly common as incidence rates range from 500 to 800 cases per 1000 births (50-80%).
Postpartum Depression or moderate depression disorder - more debilitating than the baby blues. Researchers suggest that only 20% of women experiencing this form of depression seek treatment. Unfortunately, many should. Symptoms may include:
This form of postpartum depression occurs less frequently than the baby blues ranging from 30 to 200 cases per 1000 births (3-20%). Depression may occur at any time after delivery, up to one year.. The symptoms may last from a few weeks to several months.
Postpartum Psychosis or puerperal psychosis - a relatively rare disorder occuring in approximately 1% of new mothers following childbirth with symptoms similar to general psychotic reactions. Symptoms may include:
This rare disorder occurs severely and quickly, usually within the first three months: 80% of all cases show up within 3-14 days after a symptom-free period.
Seek the advice of a qualified physician for evaluation if you or a loved one is suffering with: sleep disturbances, eating problems arise, intense depressed feelings occur, you begin to withdraw or isolate socially, or interaction with the new baby is suffering.
There are numerous medications and treatments available for these disorders even for breast-feeding mothers. If your physician downplays or ignores your plea for help, find one who will listen.
Prevention Strategies for New Mothers and Fathers
Excerpts from Postpartum Support International and Dr. Cheryl Beck, Professor and Researcher at the University of Connecticut 2002.
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Psychosis and the Baby Blues