Originally Published: September 1, 2007 8:35 p.m.
The period after childbirth is a chaotic and sleep deprived time for most parents. Yet, most are able to focus on the joy rather than the challenges. Some mothers may feel anxious, sad, afraid, and angry after childbirth - clinicians refer to this as postpartum blues (baby blues), and the condition almost always goes away. But, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about 10 percent of new mothers have a greater problem called postpartum depression. It is more intense, lasts longer and often requires counseling and treatment.
Many new mothers are surprised at how weak, alone and upset they feel after giving birth. Their feelings don't seem to match the feelings they thought they would have. In fact, about 70 percent to 80 percent of women have "baby blues" after childbirth. The condition often goes away in a few hours or a week or so without treatment.
Women who experienced postpartum depression have such strong feelings of sadness, anxiety or despair that they have trouble coping with their daily tasks.
When to suspect a new mother has postpartum depression:
The baby blues don't go away after two weeks
Strong feelings of depression and anger come one to two months after childbirth
Feelings of sadness, doubt, guilt, or helplessness seem to increase each week and get in the way of normal functions
She is not able to care for herself or her baby
She has trouble doing tasks at home or on the job
Her appetite changes
Things that used to bring her pleasure no longer do
Concern and worry about the baby are too intense, or interest in the baby is lacking
Anxiety or panic attacks occur; she may be afraid to be left alone in the house with the baby
She fears harming the baby; these feelings may lead to guilt which makes the depression worse
She has thoughts of self-harm or suicide
If you would like to learn more, please attend National Depression Screening Day activities on Thursday, Oct. 11. West Yavapai Guidance Clinic Foundation is sponsoring this free event with underwriting support from the Prescott Evening Lions Club. For more information, call
445-5211, ext 403.
To find a screening site elsewhere in the state or country, go to www.mentalhealthscreening.org.