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The Common Warning Signs for Postpartum Depression

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 7/27/2010

Postpartum depression can cause new mothers to experience both physical and emotional problems. This condition can be identified through a number of warning signs that mothers and their partners should watch for. Learn more about some postpartum depression signs and how to recognize the disorder.

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    Postpartum depression is a chronic mood disorder that typically develops in new mothers within a few months of childbirth. The warning signs for postpartum depression can vary from woman to woman and can sometimes be difficult for new mothers and their partners to recognize. Through becoming informed about postpartum depression signs prior to giving birth, women can prepare themselves for identifying and seeking treatment for the condition.

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    Warning Signs For Postpartum Depression

    Mayo Clinic.com, WebMD, and Postpartum.net list the various signs and symptoms that indicate the presence of postpartum depression in mothers of infants. New mothers, husbands or partners, and family members should be conscious of symptoms such as:

    --a persistent and constant state of sadness and despair. The mother may express feelings of sorrow and may have irrational fears when no external causes are apparent.

    --frequent crying spells. A woman with postpartum depression may break into tears spontaneously without being able to articulate to her partner the reasons why she is upset.

    --feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness. The new mother may make negative comments about her appearance or her ability to tend to the family. She may express worry that her low self-image and pessimistic view of life will never improve.

    --feelings of guilt, shame, anger, and frustration. A woman with postpartum depression may experience intense bouts of anger or extreme reactions to the situation at hand. She may feel embarrassment and guilt regarding her inability to be happy about motherhood.

    --chronic irritability or intense mood swings. The mother may experience rapid shifts in mood throughout the day, going from sadness to anger or anger to anxiety without provocation.

    --inability to concentrate. Postpartum depression can affect a woman's ability to focus on important household details and to concentrate on caring for her family.

    --loss of appetite.

    --loss of libido.

    --insomnia or major fatigue.

    --lack of interest in hobbies, activities, or socializing with friends and family. The new mother may have a sudden disinterest in activities that she previously enjoyed. She may withdraw from people whom she had close relationships with prior to the onset of postpartum depression.

    --lack of interest in motherhood. A woman with postpartum depression may not feel excitement or happiness in regard to her new baby. She may seem reluctant to feed, bathe, and interact with her infant.

    --thoughts of self-harm or of harming the infant. Occasionally, postpartum depression can manifest in severe ways that involve suicidal ideation or irrational thoughts of hurting a baby. (1,2,3)

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    Postpartum Depression Signs: What To Do

    The warning signs for postpartum depression should be addressed by mothers and their partners as early as possible in order to ensure that help is received before the condition worsens. As is the case with traditional symptoms of depression, postpartum depression signs should be discussed with a medical professional so that treatment options such as counseling and medication can be explored. Proper care and management of this disorder allows new mothers to form healthy relationship bonds with their babies.

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    References

    1) MayoClinic.com--http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/postpartum-depression/DS00546

    2) WebMD--http://www.webmd.com/depression/postpartum-depression/postpartum-depression-what-increases-your-risk

    3) Postpartum.net--http://www.postpartum.net/Get-the-Facts/Depression-During-Pregnancy-Postpartum.aspx

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