One of the most difficult issues surrounding postpartum depression is diagnosis – whether it is an initial self-diagnosis or a diagnosis from your family doctor. Many of us don’t know how to recognize PPD, in ourselves or in others. The list below is a resource based on experience and research, something you can refer to if you are unsure if you or someone else may be suffering from postpartum depression.
- One of the most obvious signs that something might be wrong is a discernible change in appetite. A change would be if you or someone else is eating substantially less. For example, if it takes you all day to eat the bowl of oatmeal you made at breakfast or if you are eating substantially more.
- The second most obvious sign that something may be up is a change in your sleep. This can be anything from sleeping much more, to sleeping much less or developing insomnia and having very restless nights. Also, a change in your usual sleep pattern can be a factor, if for example, you have always had a regular sleep schedule but notice that you have been recently staying up later and later and consequently sleeping later and later.
- Losing interest in a number of things, like yourself and/or your appearance can be another sign that something may not be right. Another example could be if you have lost interest in an activity you normally enjoy. Losing interest/desire in your spouse/partner can occur as well. In general, if motivation is down and the efforts of day-to-day living are too much in any way, it could be a sign of postpartum depression.
- Lack of energy is one of the more well known signs of depression. We’re not saying that lack of energy alone means you are depressed, but if it persists for a long period of time and affects the quality of your life, it may be a sign of depression.
- If you simply don’t feel like yourself and it persists for longer than you think it should, don’t ignore that feeling; trust your own instincts. If you are not sure, take the time to get more information, do some research or talk to someone.
- Postpartum Depression comes in many forms. “Depression” is not the only thing that can happen to your mood after having a baby. More commonly even, many women and some men suffer from postpartum anxiety and postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder. What are the telltale signs of these mood disorders? There are many, however some of the more obvious ones can be:
- Anxiety- Panic attacks which can present themselves in many ways with signs like rapid breathing, heart palpitations, dizziness, numbness in the limbs, difficulty focusing and/or agitation.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder- Intrusive thoughts that are sometimes scary and difficult to control, obsessive behaviour such as counting, repeating tasks and/or concern with cleanliness/germs.
- More rarely, some suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Post traumatic stress disorder can occur when the mother has gone through a traumatic childbirth. Signs of this can be similar to the ones above as well as obsessive thoughts and nightmares where the mother sometimes relives the experience over and over in her mind. Even more rare is postpartum psychosis, a mental illness with the sudden onset of psychotic symptoms following childbirth. Even though postpartum psychosis is extremely rare, it is the most extreme variety of all of the postpartum mood disorders. Some of the signs can include: hallucinations, delusions, illogical thoughts, periods of delirium and mania, suicidal/homicidal thoughts.
- Changes in mood such as feelings of extended sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness and irritability are important clues that something could be wrong.
- If you are experiencing fears of any kind, such as a fear of being left alone with or without your baby, fear of impending disaster or a fear of hurting yourself or your baby, definitely reach out to someone or see a doctor.
- If your relationship with your new baby seems extreme in either direction (you either have little interest in your baby or you are suffering from extreme separation anxiety anytime you and your baby are apart) talk to someone.
Where & How to Get Help:
If you even suspect that you might be suffering from any form of PPD, talk to someone. It can be your husband, your mom, or anyone you feel comfortable with. Also, talk to a doctor that you feel comfortable talking to. Most importantly, know that you do not have to feel helpless, either because you feel like no one understands what you are going through, or because your doctor’s advice seems unhelpful. Help may be hard to find for PPD, but it is out there in a great many forms. Feel empowered to find the help that you need to get better.
Tascheleia Marangoni is the founder/director of PPDA: Postpartum Depression Awareness Ltd. PPDA is a non-profit organization in Edmonton focused specifically on Awareness and Resources for Postpartum Depression and other Postpartum Mood Disorders. PPDA’s biggest resource is its website which lists most of the resources available in Edmonton and area for postpartum depression. This website gives you the opportunity to find the help you need in the form you need it in, or to seek out many different kinds of help. Visit www.ppda.ca, call 780-903-7418, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.