Do I Have PPD? The Somewhat Official Postpartum Depression Symptom Checklist

Sunday, September 21, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Postpartum Depression


Postpartum depression (PPD) can wreak havoc on the psyches of new mothers as well as their partners, leading some therapists to treat entire families for PPD issues as opposed to just women. But how to know if you or your partner has such a thing? I have a few recent posts that go into more detail on this (see those links below this teaser). But I was recently asked to answer this question quick and dirty style in a guest post, so I created a PPD symptom checklist. If this sounds like you (or someone close to you), share it with your partner. You’re not crazy. It’s postpartum depression. And help is available.

What Are The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression (PPD)?

1. Trouble bonding or feeling disconnected: Most of us get a little bit of the,  “HOLY CRAP, I NEED TO SELL ONE OF THESE KIDS TO THE CIRCUS,” sometimes. That’s normal. But if you feel nothing, numbness towards your child or your partner, it might indicate PPD. Many women seek relationship help following the birth of a child unaware that this disconnection from loved ones might be a symptom of postpartum depression as opposed to “falling out of love”.   

2. Depressive symptoms such as extreme sadness, hopelessness or helplessness: This isn’t the baby blues, where commercials and dinner make you cry for the first week or two. This also isn’t crying into your beer after a lost work opportunity. This is a pervasive feeling that it won’t get better, that you can’t do anything to fix it, that from now on this misery is going to be your life.

3. Appetite Changes: As moms we sometimes forget to eat or satisfy our hunger picking at the plates of our littles. Nothing says satiation like peanut butter and jelly crusts and six halved grapes. But if you find that you are never hungry, or alternatively find that nothing comforts you except eating, you might have PPD. Because while cupcakes can indeed be comforting, filling emptiness or helplessness with food indicates a problem bigger than cake being awesome.

4. Anhedonia (or a loss of pleasure in things you used to enjoy): These feelings are not, “Wow, this is boring,” while watching Frozen for the three thousandth time, otherwise everyone would certainly be at risk for PPD. This is more, “I used to feel happy when I did this and now I feel jack shit,” a feeling of being empty, hollow or numb.

5. Feeling overwhelmed: “Holy crap, I can’t do this,” is normal sometimes. But feeling as if you should give the kid away to someone who might take better care of him is a reliable indicator of PPD.           

6. Guilt: Wait, guilt? Like that totally normal thing every mother in the history of ever has experienced? Yeah, that. Except this tends to be extreme. Women feel badly about what they are thinking, about how they are performing as a parent, about what they feel. It’s not a twinge of, “I should really cook more,” or I would fall into this category too. This guilt can be a debilitating, “I can’t do anything right why am I even trying?”

6. Fear or anxiety, which may include panic attacks: Racing heart, trouble catching breath and other anxiety symptoms are useful when we have to fight an attacker or flee the same. But when this system goes overboard after birth, you might be experiencing PPD.

7. Racing thoughts which may include fear of hurting your baby or yourself: While most of us worry for our child’s safety and tend to go into mama bear mode after birth, constant debilitating fears that keep you up at night might be a sign of postpartum depression. Considering drawing up a will or checking to make sure Junior is okay in his crib because you were concerned about suffocation is normal.But thinking about dropping the kid from the second floor is a red flag. Mothers often worry that if anyone knew what you were thinking they would take the baby or arrest them. But these thoughts are incredibly common in PPD, and those with this condition rarely do anything to hurt their children or themselves.

8. Insomnia, or fitful rest: Uh, fitful rest with a new baby? Yeah, looks like EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER has PPD. Not so fast. This is beyond having issues sleeping due to being awoken for feedings or changings. Often, even when the baby is asleep, women cannot drift off. Some new moms pass the nights staring at their husband wondering how the hell he can sleep. “Doesn’t he even care!? How can he rest when the baby could wake up any second? Why doesn’t he love me?” For some, these thoughts turn to anger and resentment by morning, leaving partners to wonder why we threw the frying pan at them instead of making eggs. And for the record, that anger and irritation thing, particularly when it comes on fast and without cause, is also a reliable sign of PPD. The fight/flight mechanism that causes all that anxiety isn’t called “FIGHT or flight” for nothing.

If this spoke to you today, know that you are not alone in your struggles. This new mommy thing is hard. But getting assistance and reducing the symptoms of postpartum depression can serve to make things just a little bit easier, for both the women who suffer and the partners who love them. Don’t go it alone.

Related Posts:


Topic-Relevant Resources

The Postpartum Husband: Practical Solutions for living with Postpartum Depression
A concise, practical guide full of useful information for the loved ones of those suffering with PPD

This Isn't What I Expected [2nd edition]: Overcoming Postpartum Depression
A great guide on combatting postpartum depression. You're not alone.

The Mother-to-Mother Postpartum Depression Support Book
A book on postpartum depression written by mothers, for mothers.