It's very common for women to feel confused about the different types of Postpartum Reactions. They usually hear about Postpartum Depression and think that it only encompasses feeling sad, tired, hopeless and blue.
Well, PPD is much more complex than that, and comes in different levels of severity, therefore the name Postpartum Mood Disorders, or PPMD, to describe the cluster of reactions some women experience postpartum, some even before giving birth.
The Different Types of Postpartum Reactions:
The Baby Blues
Affects 8 out of 10 mothers, mild emotional reaction caused by the sudden drop in hormones postpartum, starts in the first 3 days postpartum and can last up to 3 or 4 weeks. Symptoms: Irritability, Tearfulness, Exhaustion, Sadness, Anxiety.
Affects 1 out of 8 women, symptoms can appear any time during the first year postpartum, sometimes even later, and respond well to treatment. Symptoms: exhaustion, tearfulness, despondency, sleeping and/or eating difficulties, feelings of worthlessness, loneliness, isolation, frightening thoughts of fantasies, feeling detached from the baby.
Anxiety symptoms are very common during pregnancy and after giving birth, and can be present alone or along with depression. The Postpartum Anxiety Disorders include: Postpartum Panic Disorder, Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Postpartum Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Postpartum Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Postpartum Bipolar Disorder
Women who have Bipolar Disorders and take medication have a 50% rate of relapse if they discontinue their medication during pregnancy. Hyponmanic phase happens immediately after birth with severe depression several weeks later (Bipolar II). Symptoms include depression that is resistant to therapy, mood swings, poor response to antidepressants, irritability, rage, anxiety, risky behaviors. One out of 50 Bipolar women may develop Postpartum Psychosis.
Very rare disorder affecting 1 out of 1000 women. This is a very serious medical condition and requires immediate help.
Symptoms include extreme confusion, disorientation, irrational and incoherent statements, thoughts of harming self or the baby based on delusional thinking - thoughts are ego-syntonic (woman does not see anything wrong with those thoughts), hallucinations, agitation or hyperactivity, loses touch with reality. It manifests itself 3 to 14 days after giving birth.