Low energy or changes in appetite or sleep can be normal in pregnancy and these symptoms may be confused with depression. However, symptoms in pregnancy can lead to postpartum depression or anxiety.
Up to 80% of mothers feel very teary, irritable and worried for up to 10 days after delivery. These “baby blues” are very common and do not usually need treatment other than understanding, rest and support.
Postpartum Depression & Anxiety
Depression and anxiety can occur anytime during pregnancy or after the birth of a baby. Feeling very depressed or anxious is not normal. Depression occurs in about 15% of women in pregnancy or after birth. Anxiety can be more common. Paternal depression affects 10% of men after the birth of a baby.
Women commonly have signs of anxiety along with postpartum depression. Anxiety and depression can also happen on their own.
Tell your doctor or nurse if you are feeling any of following signs. It may be difficult to talk about your thoughts and feelings with your health care providers. But they can support you in getting the help you need. The sooner you get help, the better you will feel.
Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at times. Anxiety disorders, however, are different. They can cause such distress that it interferes with a person’s ability to lead a normal life.
Common Symptoms of Anxiety
scary or upsetting thoughts
feeling on edge, restless or irritable
avoiding people, places or activities
trouble falling or staying asleep
shortness of breath
dizziness or light-headedness
sweaty or clammy hands
A sudden feeling of intense fear or discomfort making you feel “out of control”. Some women think they are having a heart attack or nervous breakdown.
racing heart, chest pain
sweating, hot or cold flashes
shaking, loss of feeling or a tingling sensation
shortness of breath, a feeling like you are choking
Unwanted thoughts that can come and go involving harm to yourself or your baby. They can feel very real but when these thoughts happen after having a baby, mothers usually know that these thoughts are not real and will not act on them.
unwanted, repetitive thoughts, impulses or images
repetitive actions (e.g. washing hands over and over again, checking the baby all the time)
scary thoughts or visions of the baby being harmed
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD can happen after a distressing event such as a difficult or traumatic labour and birth, an accident, natural disasters, death of a loved one, abuse or sexual assault, or war.
thoughts and dreams of the event
feeling numb and detached from the world
hard time sleeping
lack of bonding with the baby
more likely to miss doctor visits
avoiding further pregnancies
avoiding places that remind you of the trauma
Postpartum psychosis is rare, but a medical emergency.
having unusual thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
If you notice any of these signs in yourself, in a friend or partner, contact a doctor and go to a hospital emergency right away.
Video: Identification and Awareness.Couples share their struggles with identifying their postpartum difficulties and depression.