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How to Identify Postpartum Depression

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what you should know about postpartum depression Alena Ozerova/PhotoSpin

Many women experience the "baby blues" in the first couple of weeks after childbirth. With the baby blues, women may have trouble sleeping and mood swings, teary, and overwhelmed. They may have these feelings along with being happy about their baby.

However, postpartum depression (PPD) is not to be confused with the “baby blues,” said HowToDoThings.com. Postpartum depression is a more serious, prolonged mental condition that adversely affects the mother and requires treatment.

HelpGuide.org described postpartum depression as usually developing gradually over a period of several months. But it can also come on suddenly, and in some women, the initial signs don’t appear until months after childbirth.

Postpartum depression is thought to be caused by several factors including stress and physical and hormonal changes, stated HelpGuide.org.

There are ways to identify postpartum depression. HowToDoThings.com said overreacting to trivial matters, weepiness and mood swings are some of the clearest indicators of PPD.

Women with postpartum depression may feel very sad, hopeless and empty. Some women also may feel anxious or lose pleasure in everyday things, said WebMD.

HowToDoThings.com said that women might suffer from trouble sleeping even if the baby is sleeping peacefully. And most mothers suffering from PPD are unable to fully concentrate. Their decision-making and analytical abilities become reduced.

Women may not feel hungry and might lose weight, but some feel hungrier and gain weight, wrote WebMD.

Baptist Health South Florida said that other symptoms of postpartum depression include isolating yourself from others and experiencing thoughts of death or suicide.

The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) is the screening instrument most commonly used to identify postpartum depression, wrote Massachusetts General Hospital (Mass General). With this 10-item questionnaire, a score of 10 or greater or an affirmative answer on question 10 (presence of suicidal thoughts) is suggestive of postpartum depression.

A recent study showed the EPDS may be abbreviated to a shorter version which can be used to screen for postpartum depression, said Mass General. It includes these three questions.

1. I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong.

2. I have been anxious or worried for no good reason.

3. I have felt scared or panicky for no very good reason.

“Postpartum depression is not new, but our awareness has increased tremendously,” obstetrician/gynecologist Jason James, M.D., told Baptist Health South Florida.

“We now know that through vigilant screening, we have the potential to help many families and avert tragedies like suicide or, in rare cases, the death of a baby at the hands of the mother.”


"Baby Blues: Identifying and Treating Postpartum Depression | Health, Life & Community | Baptist Health South Florida." Top Miami Doctors and Hospitals | Baptist Health South Florida. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Aug. 2013.

Farooqi, Sadaf. "How To Identify Postpartum Depression." How To Do Things » How To Articles & How To Videos. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Aug. 2013.

"Identifying Postpartum Depression: A Three Question Screening Tool | MGH Center for Women's Mental Health." MGH Center for Women's Mental Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Aug. 2013.

"Postpartum Depression and the Baby Blues: Symptoms, Treatment, and Support." Helpguide helps you help yourself and others. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Aug. 2013.

"Postpartum Depression: What Is It, and What Causes It?" WebMD - Better information. Better health. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Aug. 2013.

Reviewed August 15, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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