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Take the Postpartum Depression Assessment

Postpartum Depression

If this is supposed to be the happiest time of my life, why does everything feel so wrong? For many mothers, the experience of pregnancy and childbirth is often followed by sadness, fear, anxiety, and difficulty making decisions. With all the physical changes going on often there are psychological changes as well. Postpartum Depression can be mild, moderate or severe. Symptoms may occur up to a year at the end of pregnancy. In addition to the pressures to be the perfect mother, common stressors that cause anxiety taking on too much work, worry about the baby, worrying about your parenting ability. After the baby is born each women is affected differently by the postpartum adjustment symptoms, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. Many women have the baby blues in the days after childbirth.

Symptoms of the baby blues include mood swings, feeling sad, anxious, or overwhelmed, crying spells, loss of appetite and having trouble sleeping. The baby blues most often go away within a few days or a week. The symptoms are not severe and do not need treatment. It is estimated that 15 % of women experience major or minor depression following childbirth. Postpartum Depression may appear to be the baby blues but the symptoms and signs are more intense and longer lasting. Signs and symptoms of Postpartum Depression may include loss of appetite, insomnia, fatigue, lack of joy in life, loss of interest in sex, feelings of inadequacy, guilt, shame, severe mood swings, difficulty bonding with the baby and withdrawal from family and friends. Postpartum Psychosis is rare condition with a sudden onset with symptoms that include hallucinations and delusions; significant mood changes with poor decision-making, paranoia and attempts to harm yourself or the baby. If you or someone you know fits this description, please seek medical help immediately.

Some women may find it hard talking about Perinatal Depression. They may hope that it goes away on its own or unsure if they have it or how to discuss it. These are common feelings, however, woman must realize that she is not alone and with treatment it is possible to feel better. Screening for Prenatal Depression should be a routine part of your health care during and after pregnancy. Only a trained health care or mental health professional can tell you whether you have Perinatal Depression, however the following checklist can help you know weather you have some of the common symptoms:
 
I have been unable to laugh and see the funny side of things.
I have not looked forward to things I usually enjoy.
I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong.
I have been anxious or worried for no good reason.
I have felt scared or panicky for no good reason.
Things have been getting the best of me.
I have been so unhappy that I have had difficulty sleeping.
I have felt sad or miserable.
I have been so unhappy that I have been crying.
The thought of harming myself, my baby, or others has occurred to me. *

If you checked more than one box visit with a trained health care or mental health care professional who can help determine if you have Perinatal Depression and will advise a course of action.

*Checklist adapted from the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.


 


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