Along with the joy of welcoming a new baby into the world, many mothers feel sad, anxious, or afraid. These feelings can be indicative of the "baby blues" or of postpartum depression.
About 70 to 80 percent of all new mothers experience the mild symptoms associated with baby blues within two to four days after birth. Symptoms include:
- Frequent, prolonged crying for no clear reason
- Trouble sleeping, eating, or making choices
- Irritability or quick mood changes
- Anxiety over ability to care for the baby
This can last a maximum of 10 days, and it resolves without treatment.
Approximately 1 in 7 new mothers experience the more debilitating and longer lasting symptoms of postpartum depression. These symptoms can appear anytime during the first year after birth, but typically begin within three months postpartum. The symptoms of postpartum depression must be present most of the day nearly every day for 2 continuous weeks and include five of the symptoms listed below, one of which must be either low or depressed mood OR loss of interest or pleasure:
- Low or depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Appetite changes—more often loss of appetite, others may notice an increase in appetite
- Sleep disturbance—usually insomnia or disrupted sleep, even when the baby sleeps; others may have increased sleep
- Poor energy
- Excessive guilt
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions
- Agitation or feelings of being slowed down
Postpartum depression can be treated with many types of therapy, but women have trouble identifying whether they have postpartum depression which can delay treatment. The attached questionnaire, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale questionnaire is used to screen for postpartum depression. A score of 10 or more indicates that you should speak with a health professional about postpartum depression, and a score of 5-9 indicates that you are at risk for developing the illness.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about Feinberg-affiliated clinical resources via our Patient Care page.