Postpartum Depression and Other Postpartum Difficulties

While you’re pregnant, you don’t want to have to worry about the worst-case scenarios. You want to be able to focus on the joy that’s growing inside of you, and to look forward to meeting that little one you’ve been expecting for so long. Still, it’s helpful to be aware of some of the possibilities out there so that you’re at least a little bit prepared to face them if they come.

Postpartum depression is the most common type of mood or mental condition that you may face after your baby is born. It’s estimated that somewhere between 15 and 20 percent of women will experience postpartum depression or a related condition. Understanding these conditions and knowing what they look like now will help you to be aware of them if they hit, and help you be ready to seek treatment.

Here are some of the postpartum conditions you should be aware of:

  • Postpartum depression. This is the most common condition in this group, and the one that most people talk about. It’s characterized by feelings of loss, guilt, anger, sadness, irritability, and hopelessness. Often, postpartum depression will be accompanied by changes in appetite and sleeping habits, as well.
  • Postpartum anxiety. Postpartum anxiety is closely related to postpartum depression, and many women who experience one will experience the other. This one is recognized by strong feelings of worry or fear, often about the safety or the health of your new baby. Postpartum anxiety may include panic attacks, which are periods where you’ll have chest pains, shortness of breath, dizziness, and other symptoms.
  • Postpartum psychosis. This is a severe form of postpartum mental illness, and the most serious on the list. Postpartum psychosis includes things like auditory or visual hallucinations, as well as confusion, memory loss, and paranoia. If left unchecked, this one can result in the mother harming herself or others.
  • Postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder. This condition is rather rare. It’s recognized by symptoms where you’ll have flashbacks of a traumatic event – in this case childbirth – and have associated feelings of anxiety. You may even feel compelled to avoid all things associated with the event, most notably your baby.

There is help available. If you experience any of these conditions, talk to your doctor right away.

Leila Pereira
Leila Pereira
I work in occupational therapy and occupational science. I specialize in early intervention pediatrics for children from birth to three years old; with an emphasis on children with autism. My goals are to support the achievement of developmental milestones in your child while collaborating with caregivers & parents; including play skill development, education, leisure, rest and sleep, feeding, nutrition and social participation. Licensed by the California Board of Occupational Therapy

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