Most mothers will say that having a baby was one of the most important activities of their lives. At the same time, most mothers also will say that parenthood is more challenging than they had anticipated. The so-called “baby blues” are a common, short-term experience of depressive symptoms following childbirth experienced by between 60 and 80 percent of women. But the dividing line between baby blues and actual postpartum depression may be difficult to discern.
The following are a few categories of postpartum conditions that are more severe and distinguishable from the baby blues:
Postpartum Depression Syndrome – A woman experiencing the physical and emotional symptoms of clinical depression including feeling sad most of the time, trouble concentrating, crying at least once a day, has no interest in the thing she used to enjoy, insomnia, feeling like a failure, lack of energy and appetite, and feeling hopeless about the future.
Postpartum Stress Syndrome – Otherwise known as Adjustment disorder, this condition is characterized by a maladaptive reaction to an identifiable stressor. Features include mood disturbance, ineffective coping, impaired problem-solving, ineffective stress management, low self-esteem, weakened social interaction, and a lack of social support.
Postpartum Anxiety Syndromes – These include Postpartum Panic disorder (inability to catch breath, pounding heart, shaking, nausea, dizziness, feeling like one is about to die or have a heart attack) and Obsessive Compulsive disorder (recurrent intrusive thoughts, compulsive behaviors that cause distress, or repeated urges or images that cannot be ignored).
Postpartum Crisis Psychosis – The very rare circumstance where a woman has hallucinations or delusions. This condition may result in the harm of a child, yet it is more common for it to result in the suicide of the mother.
The postpartum cycle may be broken by identifying negative thought patterns, setting limits, asserting yourself to say no, talking about your feelings with others, creating options, and distracting yourself. It is also recommended that one seek professional support as well as help from family and friends.
Information culled from Therapist’s Guide to Clinical Intervention by Sharon L. Johnson.