Signs of Postpartum Depression - Symptoms and Diagnosis

The manifestation of symptoms and signs of postpartum depression can appear any time from 24 hours post delivery up to a few months after giving birth.

If the symptoms are passing, and very mild, they can be ignored. However, if the symptoms persist over extended periods of time and cause the individual to be dysfunctional, then professional help and attention should be sought.

Some of the postpartum depression symptoms and signs to look out for are:

  • Crying spells for no apparent reason or for minor issues.

  • Inability to derive pleasure from events / situations that earlier seemed pleasurable.

  • Difficulty in sleeping.

  • Weight loss.

  • Energy lows; constant feeling of fatigue.

  • Agitation over minor issues.

  • Low libido.

  • Feelings of low self esteem and rejection.

  • Physical signs of postpartum depression include frequent headaches, increased heart rate, shakiness, etc.



Diagnosis of postpartum depression

Given the large scale incidence and long term impact to mental and emotional health that follows postpartum depression if it is left untreated, it becomes imperative and a huge priority for physicians to identify patients suffering from the disease, and provide timely treatment.

The criteria for diagnosis is the same as it is for any major depressive disorder, and the symptoms and signs of postpartum depression should be present for at least two weeks so it can clearly be distinguished from just a case of the “baby blues”, which does not require professional attention.

In the postpartum period, if the patient experiences dysphoric mood or anhedonia for a large part of the day, and if this is consistently observed for two weeks or more, then her condition can be diagnosed as postpartum depression.

Other symptoms which are usually present for a clear diagnosis of depression include: inability to concentrate, fatigue, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, low self esteem or guilt, excessive anxiety about child’s health, etc.

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