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More than ‘baby blues’: 5 signs of postpartum depression to look out for

Published on:24 June 2021, 18:07pm IST
Feeling anxious after childbirth is normal, but some women may also experience long and severe spells of depression, known as postpartum depression.
Grace Bains
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postpartum depression
Feeling anxious after childbirth is normal, but some women may experience long spells of depression, known as postpartum depression. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

A baby’s birth is an emotional event, full of fear, joy and anxiety. In some cases, this whirlwind of emotions is laced with a layer of depression, that new mom’s face after giving birth. These ‘baby blues’ include mood shifts, strong urge to cry, anxiety, and sleep difficulties. The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic doesn’t make anything easy for new mums, given the uncertain future.

While feeling anxious and overwhelmed after childbirth is normal, some women may also experience long and severe spells of depression, known as postpartum depression. The signs of this condition start to manifest within 2-3 days of childbirth and can last up to 2 weeks.

What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression is a condition that causes severe mood shifts, lethargy and an acute sense of hopelessness. These factors become a hindrance for new mothers to care for their baby or themselves.

A steep drop in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) after childbirth may be a contributory factor to this condition. New mothers could also experience a drop in hormones produced by the thyroid gland, leaving them feeling tired, and anxious. Other factors that could cause postpartum depression include sleep deprivation, self doubt regarding ability to care for the newborn, and body image issues.

postpartum depression
Postpartum depression can have a long-lasting impact on your mental health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
These are the signs of postpartum depression to look out for

At the very onset, we want to make it clear that postpartum depression is not a sign of weakness but merely a childbirth-related complication. In fact, timely diagnosis and treatment can help manage the symptoms and enable new moms to bond with their newborn baby.

These signs will tell you that you might have this condition:

1. Long-lasting anxiety and disinterest

It is common to experience stress, urge to cry and anxiety in the first week after childbirth, however, if this feeling persists, then it could be a sign of postpartum depression. Associated symptoms also include hyperventilation and panic attacks. You may also experience a growing disinterest in things you used to like before childbirth, such as eating your favourite foods or watching a movie of your liking.

2. Diminishing sense of control and lethargy

Some women may find it difficult to make decisions, such as what meals to have, utilities to buy or which doctor to visit. This indicates a diminished sense of control and is followed by a general spell of lethargy which prohibits new mothers from getting out of bed, bathe, or changing their baby’s diaper.

postpartum depression
Postpartum depression may lead to feelings of being out of control. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Second guessing your abilities as a mother

A common sign of postpartum depression is new moms doubting their abilities to take care of their newborn baby. This is especially prevalent in cases where the baby is unwell or premature.

4. Altered sleep patterns

Sleep patterns do alter after childbirth, however, your sleep pattern should start improving in a few weeks post-delivery. In case you are not able to rest and catch some well-deserved sleep even when your child is resting, then it could be a sign of postpartum depression.

5. Advanced symptoms

There could also be cases where mothers develop suicidal thoughts or think about physically harming their baby. These are rare and advanced symptoms and need immediate medical attention.

So, ladies, it is perfectly fine to be feeling anxious and stressed after childbirth and you need not be embarrassed to consult a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.

Grace Bains Grace Bains

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book.