Sympsoms help identify postpartum depression

January 08, 1991|By Los Angeles Times

Most women get the blues after giving birth, but the difference between that mild feeling of "being down" and depression is like the difference between a gentle spring rain and a flood.

Experts divide postpartum disorders into three classifications: postpartum blues, postpartum depression and the more rare postpartum psychosis.

The "baby blues" are usually marked by fatigue and, frequently, tears, said Dr. Lori Altshuler, a psychiatrist who teaches at UCLA Medical Center.

The blues typically start from three to seven days after birth and last a few weeks, Altshuler said. New mothers often are told that such a feeling is normal because "it helps them not feel anxious."

But a woman struck by postpartum depression often has insomnia, is agitated and has trouble concentrating, Altshuler said. Other symptoms may include a feeling of worthlessness, decreased appetite and a loss of interest in her surroundings, including the baby.

The blues cure themselves; a clinical depression requires medication and counseling.

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