How is postnatal depression diagnosed?

Diagnosing postnatal depression is not always an easy task for doctors as it is inevitable that after birth mothers will experience some form of the ‘baby blues’. Some mothers are reluctant to share their feelings in fear that they will be classed as a ‘bad mother’. If you do think you might be suffering from postnatal depression it is best to see the doctor immediately or address your concerns with the midwife. 

The Symptoms of Postnatal Depression

The following symptoms may be an indication of postnatal depression as described below:

  • Feeling unhappy and miserable all the time and crying for no apparent reason
  • Feeling irritable, especially with your other children and family
  • Being unable to enjoy your babies company or not feeling happy enough to smile
  • You may not feel like sleeping or you may wake up very early
  • You may feel lethargic; even more than normal
  • Your appetite may become affected and you may not feel like eating at all
  • Anxiety is another symptom that postnatal depression can arouse
  • Negative feelings about yourself, such as feelings of inadequacy or feeling negative about your looks can often occur
  • Suicidal feelings- Some mothers may feel suicidal in severe cases of postnatal depression

Questions that you may be asked by a Doctor 

  • Do you feel depressed during the whole day or are there times when you feel happy?
  • Have you lost interest in things you normally enjoy?
  • Have you lost interest in the baby?
  • Do you have trouble sleeping?
  • Do you have trouble eating?
  • Have you lost your self esteem or confidence?
  • Is it hard for you to concentrate?
  • Have you been feeling suicidal?
  • Do you feel guilty for no reason?
  • Do you feel irritated?
  • Do you feel overly lethargic?

If you answer yes to four or more of these questions you may be suffering from mild depression. In cases of moderate depression you would have answered yes to five or six of the above questions. If you have all the symptoms of depression then you may be suffering from severe postnatal depression and would need to see your doctor immediately for relevant help and guidance. Your doctor may give you a questionnaire which will assess whether you have postnatal depression by the answers you give. 

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