Bringing a new baby into the world is an occasion for joy and celebration, which is why many women are confused and dismayed when they begin to feel the effects of postpartum depression. As its name suggests, postpartum depression is a type of depression that strikes days, weeks or even months after childbirth. The depression can range from mild to severe, and may last for several months. If you have a past history of depression, you may be at higher risk for postpartum depression.
Common symptoms. Being emotional and melancholy after the birth of a baby is normal, and is often called "the baby blues." According to the Mayo Clinic, "Postpartum depression may appear to be the baby blues at first—but the signs and symptoms are more intense and longer lasting, eventually interfering with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks." While the baby blues may sap your motivation for simple tasks, postpartum depression can make them seem impossible. Postpartum depression is characterized by intense irritability, difficulty interacting with others—including the new baby—lost appetite, lost interest in previously enjoyable activities, mood swings, and even thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby.
How postpartum depression may affect you. Mild postpartum depression may do little more than compound to post-childbirth fatigue and contribute to a pronounced melancholy or irritable mood. However, on the more severe end of the scale, the depression may be debilitating and make it nearly impossible to take care of the new baby. Possibly the worst side effect of postpartum depression is that many sufferers also feel guilt and anxiety about their seeming inability to bond with their babies. They may wonder if the depression means that they're not good mothers or don't love their babies. For this reason, it's essential that new mothers realize how postpartum depression may affect them, and for them to understand that it's a medical problem. Depression isn't a reflection on how much you care for your child, and it can be managed with proper treatment and support.