Some symptoms of depression, like sadness, are obvious. Most people think of a depressed person as being sad. But what about a person who isn't sleeping? Or who can't seem to stop moving? Would they typically be looked at as a depressed person? How about a person who is detached, argumentative, or who has lost a lot of weight suddenly? In my case, I did not fit what my Obstetrician thought of as "depressed," so she did not think I had a problem. Awareness is something that is so important, not just for the OB/GYN, but nursing staff, family members, and friends. I have included a checklist of symptoms taken from several sources in hopes of increasing self-awareness of depression.
1) Do you feel more tired than usual?
2) Are you crying often, seemingly for no apparent reason?
3) Do you notice that you are having trouble concentrating?
4) Have you lost interest in things that used to make you happy?
5) Do you feel guilty?
6) Do you feel anxious, or panicky?
7) Are you feeling bonded to your baby?
8) Are you having recurring nightmares, or flashbacks?
9) Do you feel anger toward the baby, your partner, or family members?
10) Are you calling the pediatrician often, yet not being reassured by his or her advice?
11) Do you feel restless?
12) Are you unable to sleep, or are you sleeping more than usual?
13) Do you have recurring, intrusive thoughts about harming your baby, or of some kind of harm coming to your baby?
14) Do you find that you are having exaggerated high or low moods?
15) Are you uninterested in sex?
16) Have you noticed intense anxiety or fear, rapid heart rate, shaking, or dizziness?
17) Are you avoiding certain places, television programs, news, or situations in order to avoid intrusive thoughts of feelings?
18) Are you very preoccupied with thoughts of germs or cleanliness?
19) Do you feel restless, unable to relax?
20) Do you feel a sense of emptiness or despair?
Any of the above symptoms are cause for further evaluation. If you or a family member or friend has just had a baby, or had a baby in the last year (people tend to think of PPD as happening immediately after birth, but often, it shows up later, sometimes as late as many months or a year after the birth), and if any of the above sound familiar, please check into it further. I have included links to local organizations that have referrals to therapists who specialize in PPD. Another alternative is to ask your healthcare provider, whether you see an OB/GYN or a midwife, this person should have a list of therapists in the area that specialize in PPD, and should be able to refer you to someone who can help.