Many women go through “baby blues” — mood swings, irritability, crying spells, or anxiety as their hormones go on a “roller coaster ride” after delivery. These feelings usually subside within a week or two and seem to coincide with the amount of sleep a woman is getting. If you are feeling this way, ask others for help with your baby, other children, and household tasks and see if some rest doesn’t help to resolve the problem.
For some women, the symptoms are more intense or don’t go away, signaling an illness called postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is common but treatable. If you notice several of the symptoms listed, they are intense, and they occur daily for longer than 2 weeks, you may have postpartum depression:
- Feelings of sadness that last most of the day
- Frequent crying
- Lack of appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Severe tiredness or wanting to sleep all the time
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Loss of interest in people and activities
- Trouble concentrating
- Negative feelings about the baby
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby
- Intense anger, anxiety, or irritability
- Feeling confused, seeing or hearing things that aren’t there, or having thoughts that don’t make sense
If you think you may have postpartum depression, call the nurse at your provider’s office. You are not alone! There are many treatments for postpartum depression, and your provider will help you find the best one. Postpartum depression is an illness caused by chemicals in the brain, not a reflection on your character. For additional information, visit ACOG’s Postpartum Depression FAQs.