Postpartum Blues and Depression

Postpartum Blues

Postpartum blues refers to a passing condition characterized by mood swings, irritability, anxiety, decreased concentration, insomnia, tearfulness, and crying spells. Symptoms occur in over 50% of patients, and generally develop within 2 to 3 days of delivery. Symptoms peak on the 5th postpartum day and should resolve within 2 weeks. Support and reassurance along with adequate sleep/rest usually leads to improvement. If your symptoms are not improving and are continuing after 2 weeks postpartum, please call our office.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression occurs in approximately 10% of women. It generally appears within the first month postpartum and does not resolve within 2 weeks. However, postpartum depression can present up to several months postpartum. Women with a prior history of depression are especially at risk.

Symptoms must include:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, or
  •  Markedly diminished interest/pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day.

Also, one might experience:

  • Extreme trouble sleeping (even when your infant sleeps)
  •  Profound lack of energy where you may not be able to get out of bed for hours
  • Significant anxiety (often with panic attacks)
  •  Intense irritability and anger
  • Feelings of guilt
  •  A sense of being overwhelmed or unable to care for the baby
  •  Feelings of inadequacy, and of being a failure as a mother.
  •  Not bonding to the baby which further exacerbates feelings of shame and guilt and leads women to suffer in silence.

Many women will have some of the above symptoms occasionally after giving birth. However, it is the woman that has multiple symptoms that are not resolving who should call our office for an evaluation.

Treatment involves a multidisciplinary approach towards possible biological, psychological, and social aspects of the disease. Medication and counseling are common treatment modalities.