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The Signs of Postpartum Depression

written by: Erin281982 • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 3/14/2011

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious condition that some women may experience after they give birth. Here is a look at some of the signs of postpartum depression that include but are not limited to inability to bond as well as negative feelings such as sadness and guilt.

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    Recognizing the Signs of Postpartum Depression

    For some women giving birth is a happy time and they feel overjoyed at welcoming their new baby into the world. But for other women it is less so as it is filled with many moments where they feel up and down. Although it is common for most women to experience what is known as the "baby blues" or a brief period of sadness after giving birth, some may be at risk of developing a more serious condition known as postpartum depression.

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    Signs of Postpartum Depression: Difficulty Bonding with Baby

    One of the most common signs of postpartum depression is a difficulty bonding with the new baby. A new mom who is experiencing postpartum depression may go through the motions of taking care of their baby but find it difficult to connect with their newborn. The mom has no desire to hold her baby and dreads tasks such as breastfeeding. She becomes agitated and nervous when the baby cries.

    Many new moms feel as though they are supposed to be instantly in love with their new son or daughter and when some do not experience this they often feel confused and guilty. They can also feel less connected to other family members as well such as their spouse and other children. The new mom may feel as though she is withdrawing from everyone.

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    Signs of Postpartum Depression: Negative Feelings

    New moms who have developed postpartum depression may begin to experience a number of negative feelings such as guilt, sadness and hopelessness. Many feel guilty because they cannot understand why they are so sad and why they are having a difficult time bonding with their new baby. They feel as though they are a bad parent or spouse. New moms may have witnessed family or friends who were elated after giving birth and excited at becoming a new mom and when they themselves do not experience it, they feel frustrated and guilty.

    For a mother with PPD nothing seems to make them happy anymore and they do not feel hopeful about their future as a parent. Some will become extremely irritable and angry. The anger is directed at themselves, their spouses, other family members, and even their newborn baby. The smallest thing begins to irritate them and they lash out. This results in more feelings of guilt which just contributes to their overall sadness and state of depression.

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    Signs of Postpartum Depression: Physical Changes

    There are also many physical changes a new mom may go through if she is suffering from postpartum depression. Insomnia is a common sign of postpartum depression. Even though the new baby is keeping her up at night and she feels physically exhausted she may have a difficult time falling or staying asleep when the baby has nodded off. The thought of being a new mom is very daunting and scary and prevents her from being able to sleep.

    Other new moms may take it to another extreme and find they want to sleep all the time. They feel emotionally and physically exhausted. Sleep may prove to be a way for them to escape their feelings and the responsibility of taking care of their new baby.

    Another physical change that is often seen in postpartum depression concerns appetite. Loss of appetite is very common, although some women with PPD may turn to food as a comfort and begin eating more. This change in appetite can lead to weight fluctuations.

    Loss of interest in sex is also a common sign of postpartum depression. Even after a new mom has been told it is safe for her to resume sexual activity she may find she has no interest. She may feel too tired and unattractive because she is not in the same shape as she was before having the baby or just not able to respond to her partner because she is consumed by her depression.