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POSTNATAL DEPRESSION

Symptoms

Core Symptoms

 

Depressed mood or loss of interest/pleasure: Either a persistent feeling of low mood or an absence of any pleasure. This may include a lack of positive feelings towards the baby or alternatively the baby may be the only source of pleasure or interest.

Low Energy: Marked tiredness, lethargy, lack of feeling refreshed in the mornings or poor motivation. If observed for significant periods of time by others they would notice a slowness or loss of vitality.


Other Symptoms

 

Sleep disturbance: This can be insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping). It may be attributed to the baby waking. To differentiate between waking due to the baby vs sleep disturbance due to depression, ask if they wake before or after the baby wakes (before suggests depression) and how long it takes them to get back to sleep after they have fed their baby (most non-depressed mothers fall back to sleep readily)

Appetite changes: Depression is often associated with a decrease in appetite resulting in weight loss however in postpartum women there is frequently an increase in appetite.

Negative thoughts: Thoughts of inadequacy, especially as a mother, worthlessness or excessive guilt. Exaggerated negative thoughts towards others, especially those closest are also common.

Cognitive Difficulties: Deceased ability to think clearly. This may include difficulty concentrating, or indecisiveness, or memory difficulties. This makes it difficult to multitask and to think ahead which, in turn makes looking after other children a major challenge.

Morbid Thoughts: Recurrent thoughts of death, particularly fears that the baby will come to harm or that she, or her partner will die and therefore leave the baby uncared for. Alternatively she may be preoccupied with suicidal thoughts and feel the baby would be better off without her.


Other features

 

Symptoms are present and persistent throughout at least a two week period. Significant distress or impairment in day to day functioning results. This can be easily missed by others as many mothers spend a considerable period of the day ‘alone’ with their baby.


Disclaimer

 

The information and advice found on this website aims to reflect current medical knowledge and practice. However, this is not a substitute for clinical judgement and individual medical advice. The website authors accept no responsibility for any consequences arising from relying upon the information contained on this website.

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