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PREVENT

Postpartum depression: More than the baby blues

About eight in 10 new mothers feel down after giving birth. The "baby blues" occur during the first few days after birth, usually appearing on the third or fourth day. They are usually over by two weeks postpartum.

You may feel tearful, impatient, irritable, restless or anxious. These periods are fairly short and don't last all day. The feelings come and then go away by themselves. You may also feel very tired due to a lack of sleep.

It is estimated that almost one in five new mothers experiences various degrees of postpartum depression. This often appears around the fourth week after birth. During your recovery you may feel tired, overwhelmed, stressed, have feelings of loss of your identity, and have less control over your time. These can also add to the postpartum depression.

You may have one or several of these symptoms: 

  • nervousness, anxiety, panic, restlessness
  • sluggishness, fatigue, exhaustion
  • sadness, hopelessness, irritability
  • eating and sleeping problems
  • poor concentration, confusion, memory loss
  • over-concern for your baby 
  • lack of interest in your baby
  • feelings of guilt, inadequacy, worthlessness
  • exaggerated highs, lows or both
  • fear of harming your baby, yourself or both

Symptoms can be mild or so severe that you can feel like you're "going crazy." With depression you may have "good" days and "bad" days. These feelings don't go away by themselves. You need to get help and support. Symptoms are treatable with medicine, talk therapy or both. It is important to talk with your health care provider about what you are feeling.

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