For women who are pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant or just had a baby, don't forget to ask your doctor about the baby blues and postpartum depression.
Signs and symptoms can include uncontrollable crying, depression and anxiety. There is no reason to suffer needlessly with this condition. It's better to get help, as I discovered after I had my baby in September. Just before I had my son, a friend warned me that the baby blues could be excruciating to deal with. I was glad she gave me a heads up because I may not have sought help as soon as I did.
The combination of lack of sleep, exhaustion from giving birth/having a C-section, fluctuating hormones and some underlying depression all contributed to my PPD. As each day went by, I couldn't tell if my symptoms were getting better. After I mentioned my symptoms, my OB-GYN said I could wait a week to see if they subsided, and if they did not, to call my family doctor for help and possibly medicine. I waited only a couple more days and still felt the same - terrible. I would wake up after a night's sleep and think I felt normal. But then a wave of something I can't even describe would come over me, and I would start crying again.
I was prescribed an antidepressant and that night, just by taking that pill at bedtime, I felt some relief. My doctor recommended I talk to a counselor, which I have yet to do. I suppose if I can write about my PPD I should be able to talk about it also, right? We will see.
The bottom line is, don't wait before seeking help. Getting help will make you, your loved ones and ultimately your baby feel better.
Shelley Hanson is a staff writer for The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register and mom of our cover model, Henry.
get the facts:
Baby Blues - The "baby blues" can affect immediate postpartum women but last only a couple days to at most two weeks. Symptoms include mood swings, anxiety, sadness, crying, decreased concentraiton, trouble sleeping and irritability.
PostPartum Depression - Postpartum symptoms are a lot like the baby blues but are more severe, last longer and can interfere with caring for the baby. Symptoms include loss of appetite, insomnia, intense irritability and anger, overwhelming fatigue, loss of interest in sex, lack of joy in life (no longer enjoy activities that used to bring you pleasure), feelings of shame or inadequacy, severe mood swings, difficulty bonding with baby, withdrawal from family and friends, thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
Call the doctor if your symptoms last more than two weeks, and interfere with completing daily tasks and caring for your baby or yourself.