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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are the signs and symptoms of postnatal depression?

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  • beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia.beyondblue is a bipartisan initiative of ... View Profile

    Postnatal depression has the same signs and symptoms as depression experienced by men and women who have not just become mothers. These common behaviours include:

    • moodiness that is out of character
    • increased irritability and frustration
    • spending less time with friends and family
    • finding it hard to take minor personal criticisms
    • staying home from work or school

    Below is a simple survey which has been developed to check for PND - it's quick, easy and confidential.

    The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is a set of questions designed to see if a new mother may have depression. The answers will not provide a diagnosis - for that you need to see a doctor or other health professional. The answers will tell you however, if you, or someone you know, has symptoms that are common in women with PND.

    If you have concerns that you, or someone you know, has PND, please consult a doctor.

    To complete this set of questions, mothers should circle the number next to the response which comes closest to how they have felt IN THE PAST 7 DAYS.

    The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (Cox, Holden and Sagovsky, British Journal of Psychiatry, 1987)

    1. I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things.
    • 0 As much as I always could
    • 1 Not quite so much now
    • 2 Definitely not so much now
    • 3 Not at all

    2. I have looked forward with enjoyment to things.
    • 0 As much as I ever did
    • 1 Rather less than I used to
    • 2 Definitely less than I used to
    • 3 Hardly at all

    3. I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong.
    • 3 Yes, most of the time
    • 2 Yes, some of the time
    • 1 Not very often
    • 0 No, never

    4. I have been anxious or worried for no good reason.
    • 0 No, not at all
    • 1 Hardly ever
    • 2 Yes, sometimes
    • 3 Yes, very often

    5. I have felt scared or panicky for no very good reason.
    • 3 Yes, quite a lot
    • 2 Yes, sometimes
    • 1 No, not much
    • 0 No, not at all

    6. Things have been getting on top of me.
    • 3 Yes, most of the time I haven't been able to cope at all
    • 2 Yes, sometimes I haven't been coping as well as usual
    • 1 No, most of the time I have coped quite well
    • 0 No, I have been coping as well as ever

    7. I have been so unhappy that I have had difficulty sleeping.
    • 3 Yes, most of the time
    • 2 Yes, sometimes
    • 1 Not very often
    • 0 No, not at all

    8. I have felt sad or miserable.
    • 3 Yes, most of the time
    • 2 Yes, quite often
    • 1 Not very often
    • 0 No, not at all

    9. I have been so unhappy that I have been crying.
    • 3 Yes, most of the time
    • 2 Yes, quite often
    • 1 Only occasionally
    • 0 No, never

    10. The thought of harming myself has occurred to me.
    • 3 Yes, quite often
    • 2 Sometimes
    • 1 Hardly ever
    • 0 Never

    The total score is calculated by adding together the numbers you circled for each of the 10 items. The higher the score, the more likely it is that the person completing the questionnaire is distressed and may be depressed.Scores provide only a rough guide as to whether a woman has postnatal depression. For a full diagnosis, it is important to see a doctor.Some people who have symptoms of depression can also experience symptoms of other disorders too such as anxiety or bipolar disorder.For more information on the signs and symptoms of depression see beyondblue depression checklists.

    If symptoms of postnatal depression are left untreated, it can have a big impact on the lives of people with the illness, their families, friends and the baby. Untreated depression can lead to:
    • marriage problems
    • financial problems
    • family problems
    • drug and alcohol use
    • difficulties becoming and staying employed
    • anger management problems
    • difficulties bonding with children
    • suicide
    • loss of interest in food, sex, exercise or other pleasurable activities
    • being awake throughout the night
    • increased alcohol and drug use
    • increased physical health complaints like fatigue or pain
    • being reckless or taking unnecessary risks (e.g. driving fast or dangerously)
    • slowing down of thoughts and actions.

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