Many new moms experience the “baby blues” for a few weeks after giving birth—mood swings and tears that come more easily than they used to. Sleep deprivation doesn’t help. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed to the point of weeping when you’re up every two hours feeding a hungry newborn.
Postpartum depression is a more serious, longer-lasting type of depression. If those baby blues seem to be lasting for months, or you find yourself perpetually unhappy and losing interest in the things that used to give you a boost, like reading or exercising or gardening, you may want to seek help.
Symptoms of postpartum depression include a loss of appetite, extreme irritability or anger, withdrawal from family or friends, difficulty bonding with your baby, and feelings of harming yourself or your baby.
Postpartum psychosis is a rare but even more serious condition that usually develops within the first several weeks after giving birth and can include hallucinations and paranoia.
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It is critical that new parents realize that there is nothing they have done wrong if they experience postpartum depression. Many factors, both biological and environmental, contribute to this type of depression. Even more important is seeking help from a doctor. Most OB/GYNs, midwives, hospital personnel and pediatricians are trained to recognize the signs of postpartum depression and are eager to help women suffering from it.