- At least 80% of women experience some type of major emotional changes during pregnancy (more than just mood swings).
- 1 in 5 women will suffer from full on depression at some point in their pregnancy.
- As many as 25% of women will suffer from some level of depression after delivery (called postpartum)-and this is only counting the women that are self reported. Who knows what the number would be if it included the women who don't know they are suffering from postpartum depression or are too embarrassed or ashamed to admit it. There are 3 levels of postpartum depression and the most important way to alleviate the depression is to recognize and address the symptoms:
Level 1: Baby Blues. Many women have the baby blues in the days after childbirth. If you have the baby blues, you may:
- Have mood swings
- Feel sad, anxious, or overwhelmed
- Have crying spells
- Lose your appetite
- Have trouble sleeping
The baby blues most often go away within a few days or a week. The symptoms are not severe and do not need treatment.
Level 2: Postpartum Depression. The symptoms of postpartum depression last longer and are more severe. Postpartum depression can begin anytime within the first year after childbirth. If you have postpartum depression, you may have any of the symptoms of depression listed above. Symptoms may also include:
- Thoughts of hurting the baby
- Thoughts of hurting yourself
- Not having any interest in the baby
Postpartum depression needs to be treated by a doctor.
Level 3-Postpartum psychosis. This level of depression is rare. It occurs in about 1 to 4 out of every 1,000 births. It usually begins in the first 2 weeks after childbirth. Women who have bipolar disorder or another mental health problem called schizoaffective disorder have a higher risk for postpartum psychosis. Symptoms may include:
- Seeing things that aren't there
- Feeling confused
- Having rapid mood swings
- Trying to hurt yourself or your baby
I see these symptoms in women at work all the time and it is nothing to be ashamed about! Pregnancy and caring for an infant are incredibly difficult things to deal with and there is no reason you shouldn't be able to step forward and ask for help. The sooner women can recognize the symptoms the sooner they can get relief for the negative feelings they're having and turn motherhood back into the happy, beautiful experience it was meant to be.