Women's Health

Postpartum Depression and Psychosis: The Facts

Having a baby can bring an influx of emotions ranging from excitement to anxiety. Many new moms experience something else you may not expect - depression. Dallas Auvil MD, of the Good Samaritan Hospital Department of Psychiatry and Kristin H. Coppage MD site director of the Good Samaritan Hospital offer sound advice on this topic.

“Postpartum depression is quite common, but also quite treatable.  Early diagnosis and treatment will enable moms and their babies to better enjoy this special time,” Dr. Auvil says.

“One in five to one in eight moms experience some form of perinatal depression.  two-thirds of women have onset prior to birth with one-thirds after birth,” Dr. Coppage says.

Notice the Signs

Do you cry a lot? Feel irritable? Have sleep problems? Or just feel like something is not right? You could have the “baby blues” or something more. Women who experience any of these medical conditions should seek medical advice. “If a woman is not sure whether or not she is experiencing the baby blues or suffering from postpartum depression, she should ask her doctor as soon as possible, especially if she has a history of a mood disorder,” Dr. Auvil says. 

Baby Blues Symptoms

These symptoms start within the first three days of giving birth and fade away within a couple of weeks.

  • Mood Swings
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Crying
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Decrease Concentration
  • Irritability

Postpartum Depression Symptoms

Postpartum depression (PPD) may appear to be baby blues at first, but PPD lasts longer and is more intense. PPD is the no.1 complication of pregnancy, affecting nearly 700,000 women in the United States each year. Up to 30 percent of new mothers may:

  • Have feelings of hopelessness, irritability, sadness, loneliness and isolation that last longer than two weeks
  • Cry a lot
  • Have frightening or repetitive thoughts
  • Experience trouble eating or sleeping
  • Feel like a failure as a mother

Postpartum Psychosis

This rare condition can be a very traumatic experience for the entire family.  This is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. The mother may develop:

  • Severe mood swings
  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Auditory hallucinations, which tell the mother to harm herself or her baby
  • Delusional thinking including irrational thoughts about her baby
  • Actions to harm or even kill herself or her baby

Postpartum is not something you can control; sometimes it’s simply a complication from giving birth. Do not be reluctant or embarrassed to seek help.  “Treatment varies among women.  It can range from 'talk therapy' to medications, rest, exercise, changes in diet and assistance with childcare.  Sometimes there are even underlying medical causes that can be treated such as thyroid disorders and vitamin deficiencies,” Dr, Coppage says. 

Seek Help and Support

If you experience any of the symptoms of a postpartum disorder, you are not alone. At Bethesda North and Good Samaritan hospitals, we can help you through this difficult time. We offer:

  • A referral "hope line"
  • Connections to support groups
  • Referrals to therapists who specialize in postpartum disorders
  • Education materials
  • Call TriHealth Perinatal Programs at 513 862 3343 for more information
  • 24-hour Emergency Room treatment

“My sincere hope for any woman who experiences postpartum depression or psychosis is prompt assessment, diagnosis and treatment,” Dr. Auvil says.

Tags Women's Health

Last Updated: April 23, 2015