As much as 80 percent of new mothers experience the “baby blues” and symptoms include mood swings, sadness, and fatigue. These feelings usually pass within a week or two.
It’s caused by hormonal changes following childbirth, lack of sleep, and the pressures of taking care of a new baby. When these symptoms persist longer than a couple weeks and severity escalates, it may be a sign of a major depressive disorder with peripartum onset, also known as postpartum depression.
Additional symptoms include withdrawal, lack of appetite, and a negative train of thought. According to the American Psychological Association, about 10 to 15 percent of U.S. women have a depressive episode within three months of childbirth. One in five new mothers experience minor depressive episodes, and as many as 10 percent of new fathers may experience this condition, too.
Dr. Christina Hibbert, award-winning author and clinical psychologist, calls this “a familial disease.” Left untreated, it can be dangerous for parents and baby.