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Baby Blues

The birth of your new baby can trigger some powerful emotions – from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety – but it can also result in something you might not have foreseen namely depression.

The signs and symptoms of the baby blues syndrome after having a baby can vary depending on the form of depression. In most cases these last just a few days or a matter of weeks at the most, and they can include:

• Feeling anxious
• Feeling sad
• Feeling tearful
• Having difficulty sleeping
• Feeling exhausted

The more serious postpartum depression may manifest itself in more intense and longer lasting signs and symptoms so that you feel you cannot function properly. These could be:

• Constant fatigue
• Little or no enjoyment of life
• Feeling emotionally numb
• A feeling of failure
• Withdrawal from family and friends
• Either a lack of concern for yourself or your baby, or excessive concern for your baby
• Less or no interest in sex
• Severe mood swings
• Lack of concentration or impaired thinking
• Insomnia
• Change in appetite – either eating too little or too much

Then there is the rare form of postpartum depression which is called postpartum psychosis that develops within 6 weeks of having your baby. These signs and symptoms can be very severe and include:

• Fear of harming yourself or your baby
• Confusion and disorientation
• Hallucinations and delusions
• Paranoia

You might be surprised to read that postpartum depression can develop after the birth of any child and not just the first and it is more common in mothers after giving birth to their second baby.

There are certain contributing risks of postpartum depression if one or more of the following facts apply to you:

• You have a history of depression
• You have a history of substance abuse
• You have had postpartum depression after an earlier pregnancy
• You have a history of severe premenstrual syndrome
• You have experienced one or more stressful events during pregnancy or you are experiencing other difficult events in your life
• You have a poor marital relationship
• You have few family members or friends close by, or you are socially isolated or your own mother is not there for support
• The pregnancy is either unplanned or unwanted

Although there are steps that you can take to help yourself, many mothers who have recently given birth do not have the energy to take those steps and it is then very important to seek outside help.