Q. How am I able to tell if I have postpartum depression?

A. The signs of postpartum depression are the same as depression during any other phase in your life.  However, it can be difficult to recognize the signs during the postpartum period because some of the symptoms are so nonspecific and can be suffered by any postpartum woman.

Almost all women experience the baby blues.  This is a one to two day period usually occurring three to five days after the baby is born when we tend to feel overly emotional, overwhelmed, and overly worried regarding our ability to care for this new life.  It is related to both the fatigue and the hormonal changes our bodies are going through and passes quickly.  In days gone by most women experienced this while still in hospital where there was a lot of support around, but now with women leaving hospital as early as six hours after birth women often have no support during this period.  Remember though that it does pass quickly.

Postpartum depression can occur anytime up to six months after the birth of a baby.  However it usually occurs within the first month of the birth of a baby.  The symptoms include increasing fatigue, difficulty with sleep, changes in the ability to concentrate, change in appetite and irritability. These are also frequent in healthy new moms because of the schedule of a new baby thus it can be hard to determine if depression is occurring.  However, most women will feel quite sad or teary most of the day and they start to notice a significant lack of confidence in their ability to parent the new baby.  As it worsens women can feel quite helpless and hopeless, and start to feel that there is no chance for improvement.  If you experience any of the above symptoms and you are worried about the chance of postpartum depression you should never be scared to see your doctor to discuss them and see if any treatment is needed.

Dr. Linda Ducholke, a mother of two, has been a successful Family Practitioner with Obstetrical privileges for the past 20 years. The main focus and passion of her practice is obstetrics and childcare.