August 7th, 2008
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I’m in the middle of a short series on birth mothers and the possibility of postpartum depression. I talked about Baby Blues a few days ago and how those mood swings are to be expected for every mother who has just given birth. However, if those symptoms last longer than a few weeks and/or are more severe, the mother needs to consider the reality of postpartum depression.

Something else to remember is that postpartum depression can sneak up on a mother, not starting for a few months. It is said that the symptoms peak or become most visible to the mother or those around her around the third or fourth month after a birth or pregnancy loss.

Symptoms of postpartum depression include:

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* Depressed mood-tearfulness, hopelessness, and feeling empty inside, with or without severe anxiety.
* Loss of pleasure in either all or almost all of your daily activities.
* Appetite and weight change-usually a drop in appetite and weight, but sometimes the opposite.
* Sleep problems-usually trouble with sleeping, even when your baby is sleeping.
* Noticeable change in how you walk and talk-usually restlessness, but sometimes sluggishness.
* Extreme fatigue or loss of energy.
* Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, with no reasonable cause.
* Difficulty concentrating and making decisions.
* Thoughts about death or suicide. Some women with PPD have fleeting, frightening thoughts of harming their babies: these thoughts tend to be fearful thoughts, rather than urges to harm.

WebMD’s information also says about that list that postpartum depression sufferers will have experienced five or more of those symptoms, including one of the first two for a duration of two weeks or more. If that fits you, you need to call your doctor.

Early treatment of postpartum depression is the best way to begin healing. Many birth mothers have been reluctant to seek help for many and various reasons. However, I really encourage those who have found this post for this very reason to actively seek out help. You do not deserve to suffer with postpartum depression simply because you relinquished your child. You also need to realize that the actual relinquishment of your child does not exempt you from PPD. In fact, the grief and loss associated with relinquishment are hard enough on their own. Then to combine the dramatic effect that fluctuating hormones can have on a mother who just delivered a child and its amazing that any of us even survive the first few months after birth.

I know that this can be a scary realization for a mother who has relinquished her child; that she now has to deal with postpartum depression and has no child to show for it. However, you are not alone. There are others like you who would be willing to talk about their experiences with postpartum depression, relinquishment, grief and loss and a whole host of other issues. But you need to make the first step and reach out to others. Consider visiting the Depression & Therapy Support board over at the Forums.

Tomorrow I’m going to hit on grief and loss symptoms regarding relinquishment and how they closely mirror PPD symptoms and, therefore, why its important for adoption agencies to be providing pre- and post-relinquishment counseling from an unbiased third party for their placing mothers.

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For more on PPD, read these posts.

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