Postpartum Mood Disorders: What is Normal and When to Seek Help
*Mild depression interspersed with happier feelings, or as some women state, it is "an emotional roller-coaster".
Signs/symptoms include: Fatigue/exhaustion, feelings of sadness, crying spells, anxiety, irritability/mood swings, confusion, feeling overwhelmed, inability to cope, oversensitivity, inability to sleep, feelings of loneliness.
Occurs in 75-80% of postpartum women.
First time moms at a higher risk of experiencing baby blues.
Onset occurs 2-3 days postpartum, peaks 7-10 days postpartum, and is gone by day 14 postpartum.
**While baby blues are normal, if you experience baby blues you should still touch base with a medical doctor, midwife or other clinical care provider to let them know how you are feeling so that you can be followed more closely if symptoms persist.
**If you experience baby blues for longer than 2 weeks postpartum, talk to your care provider about possible postpartum depression. Refer to NCPS Postpartum Tips Sheet and local resource guide for professionals who can help.
*Depression that may start during pregnancy or at any time up to a year after giving birth.
Signs/symptoms include: Feeling sad, hopeless, guilty, anxious, irritable, angry, losing interest in things previously enjoyed, withdrawing from others, trouble focusing on tasks and remembering information, difficulty concentrating, learning new things, or making decisions, change of eating and sleeping habits, physical health problems, not enjoying new baby, having frequent thoughts of being a bad parent, having thoughts of harming themselves or their baby, PTSD.
Estimated to occur in 9-16% of postpartum women.
Risk increases to 41% among women who have previously experienced PPD.
50% of cases show signs during pregnancy.
Can affect both new moms and new dads (10% of men experience postpartum depression)
**If you think you may be experiencing PPD symptoms, talk to your care provider, refer to NCPS Postpartum Tips Sheet and local resource guide for professionals who can help.
*A rare illness, compared to the rates of postpartum depression or anxiety.
Occurs in approximately 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 deliveries, or approximately .1% of births.
The onset is usually sudden, most often within the first 4 weeks postpartum.
Signs/symptoms include: Delusions or strange beliefs, hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there), feeling very irritated, hyperactivity, decreased need for or inability to sleep, paranoia and suspicion, rapid mood swings, and difficulty communicating at times.
Most significant risk factors for postpartum psychosis are a personal or family history of bipolar disorder, or a previous psychotic episode.
5% infanticide or suicide rate associated with the illness.
Many survivors of postpartum psychosis never had delusions containing violent commands.
**Postpartum psychosis is temporary and treatable with professional help, but it is an emergency and it is essential that the mother receives immediate help. If you experience signs of postpartum psychosis, please contact your care provider or emergency services immediately.
Postpartum Panic Disorder:
* This is a form of postpartum anxiety where the mother feels very nervous and has recurring panic attacks.
Signs/symptoms include: Feelings of extreme anxiety and recurring panic attacks, including shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations, agitation, and excessive worry or fears.
Occurs in up to 10% of postpartum women.
Three common fears experienced by women with a Postpartum Panic Disorder are fear of dying, fear of losing control, and/or fear that one is going crazy.
Risk factors include previous history of anxiety or panic disorder, and thyroid dysfunction.
**If you experience signs/symptoms of postpartum panic disorder, please talk to your care provider. Refer to NCPS Postpartum Tips Sheet and local resource guide for professionals who can help.
Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:
*The most under-reported, under-treated postpartum mood disorder
Signs/symptoms include: presence of both repetitive obsessions (intrusive and persistent thoughts or mental images) and compulsions (repetitive behaviors performed with the intention of reducing the obsessions), as well as a sense of horror about these thoughts.
Occurs in approximately 3-5% of postpartum women.
Most likely to occur within 4 weeks of giving birth.
The most common obsession is thoughts or mental images of harming or even killing one's own baby. The most frequent compulsion is bathing the baby often or changing the child's clothes.
Unlike Postpartum Psychosis, these mothers know their thoughts are bizarre and are highly unlikely to ever indulge in the imagined behaviors.
Risk factors include: history of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and/ or negative feelings about motherhood resulting from unrealistic expectations.
**Talk to your care provider or refer to NCPS local resource guide for professionals who can help if you’re experiencing signs of postpartum OCD
***Do not feel afraid or embarrassed if you are experiencing symptoms of a postpartum mood disorder. It’s important to know it is not your fault and you are not to blame but you need to seek help, talk to someone, and receive treatment if necessary. There are many amazing care providers who want to help you recover!