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Is it postpartum depression?

You’re a new mom. You want to feel thrilled, but you don’t. Here’s how to tell if what you’re feeling is postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression

This is supposed to be a glorious time in your life. You’ve given birth to a bundle of joy, and you’re home with this adorable, gurgling baby. And yet you don’t feel joy or excitement. Is this a mild case of the blues, or is it postpartum depression? Here is some information about this condition.

When postpartum depression occurs

Most often postpartum depression (also called postnatal depression) is experienced in the first three months after giving birth, but some women can experience the condition up to a year after having had a baby. The latter situation can be particularly confusing, because the birth was so many months ago and you may not recognize your low state of mind as related to giving birth.

Causes of postpartum depression

Hormone levels change after giving birth, and this can greatly affect your mood, so you may find it swinging all over the map. Of course, other factors can affect your mood. For one, your body is different: You likely have extra weight that was gained during pregnancy, which could be upsetting, and your body has just been through the experience of delivering a baby. Also, your stress levels are high: Your friendships may be affected by this new stage in your life, not to mention the effect having a baby has had on your marriage. And let’s not forget the lack of sleep you’re dealing with. When you consider all these factors, it makes complete sense that some women fall into a depression after having a baby.

While some degree of the blues is common immediately after delivery (within the first two weeks or so), when the feelings persist, it’s considered postpartum depression.

Symptoms of postpartum depression

The symptoms of postpartum depression are varied yet similar to those of depression. Think loss of appetite, feelings of sadness and hopelessness, lethargy, lack of focus, feelings of guilt, insomnia, apathy and thoughts of causing harm to oneself, including committing suicide. Activities that used to bring you joy and happiness no longer interest you. Symptoms of postpartum depression may also pertain to the baby: You may have no interest in the baby, feel anxious about being alone with the baby, and you may have thoughts about hurting your baby.

While there’s no one test to determine definitively whether you have postpartum depression, it’s important to discuss your feelings and symptoms with your doctor immediately.

More on becoming a mom

You and your baby: The second trimester
Understanding the first trimester ultrasound
How to pack your hospital bag

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