The most common complication among women after giving birth is postpartum depression, according to the March of Dimes, with an estimated 1 in every 8 women being affected by the condition. While a dramatic shift in hormones may be the leading cause of the medical condition, the sudden change of lifestyle, increase in responsibilities, lack of sleep, and physical changes in a woman’s body can all have a lasting, even life-altering, effect on a new mom. Many new moms feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, and exhausted find the quality of their relationships with the most important people in their lives deteriorating and have difficulty completing routine tasks. If left untreated, postpartum depression may last for a year or more so it is important to recognize the symptoms and seek treatment as early as possible.
Anyone experiencing the following symptoms for 2 weeks or longer should contact their health care provider to discuss a treatment plan designed specifically for your situation:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
- Intense irritability or anger
- Lack of joy in life
- Overwhelming fatigue or lethargy
- Loss of interest in sex
- Feelings of shame or inadequacy
- Difficulty bonding with the new baby
- Withdrawal from family or friends
- Thoughts of suicide or harming your baby
While the American Pregnancy Association estimates that 50 – 75% of women experience one or more of these symptoms to a lesser degree after childbirth, they usually appear suddenly within 3 to 5 days after giving birth and last only about 10 days. Spontaneous crying, impatience, irritability, decreased concentration, anxiety, and sadness are known as the postpartum or baby blues and will end usually as abruptly as they began.