What is PPD?

Postpartum depression is NOT the baby blues.  Baby blues is considered a normal part of postpartum adjustment, requiring no medical or psychological intervention. Postpartum depression (PPD) is an umbrella term that refers to various mood or anxiety disorders which can follow childbirth. PPD can present in a number of ways depending on the predominating set of symptoms.  PPD istypically an agitated depression, with symptoms of both depression and anxiety. When depressive symptoms dominate, we refer to it as postpartum depression. When anxiety is the compelling symptom, we refer to it as a postpartum anxiety disorder.  Postpartum anxiety disorders include postpartum panic, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder and postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder.

Some experts are now comfortable using the term postpartum distress to encompass both symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Postpartum depression is the most common complication following childbirth, characterized by frequent crying, mood swings, irritability, extreme fatigue, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, loss of sexual interest, anxiety, appetite changes, negative scary thoughts, feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness and despair. In addition, thoughts of suicide and feelings of anger, shame and guilt are often present.

Postpartum psychosis is a severe  medical condition that is often misdiagnosed as postpartum depression. Psychosis occurs in 1 or 2 out of 1,000 postpartum women and if often associated with bipolar illness. The most common symptoms are severe agitation, delusional or bizarre thinking, hallucinations, insomnia, confusion, and a feeling of being out of touch with reality. Although this is a rare condition, it is always an emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

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