Hormonal changes during pregnancy increase greatly. In the first 24 hours after childbirth, hormone levels quickly return to normal. These hormonal changes may trigger symptoms of postpartum depression Researchers think the dramatic change in hormone levels may lead to depression. This is much like the way smaller hormone changes can affect a woman’s moods before she gets her period.

Levels of thyroid hormones may also drop after giving birth. The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that helps regulate how your body uses and stores energy from food. Low levels of thyroid hormones can cause symptoms of depression. A simple blood test can tell if this condition is causing your symptoms. If so, your doctor can prescribe thyroid medicine.

Many women have the baby blues in the days after childbirth. If you have the baby blues, you may:

  • have mood swings
  • feel sad, anxious, or overwhelmed
  • have crying spells
  • lose your appetite
  • have trouble sleeping

The baby blues most often go away within a few days or a week. The symptoms are not severe and do not need treatment.

The symptoms of postpartum depression last longer and are more severe. Postpartum depression can begin anytime within the first year after childbirth. If you have postpartum depression, you may have any of the symptoms of depression listed above. Symptoms may also include:

  • thoughts of hurting the baby
  • thoughts of hurting yourself
  • not having any interest in the baby

Postpartum psychosis (seye-KOH-suhss) is rare. It occurs in about 1 to 4 out of every 1,000 births. It usually begins in the first 2 weeks after childbirth. Women who have bipolar disorder or another mental health problem called schizoaffective (SKIT-soh-uh-FEK-tiv) disorder have a higher risk for postpartum psychosis. Symptoms may include:

  • seeing things that aren’t there
  • feeling confused
  • having rapid mood swings
  • trying to hurt yourself or your baby

Nobody wants to see the baby blues snowball into anything more serious. And how incredible would it be to predict this in order to preemptively treat it or even just monitor closely to determine if it is happening.

The research, as published by the Archives of General Psychiatry, is not particularly extensive. The study involves just 100 women and did show a margin of error. That being said this may provide a foothold for further research in order to treat and predict a serious condition that no mother and child should ever have to endure. Remember, if you are feeling depressed during pregnancy seek help immediately. According to the National Women's Health Information Center depression during pregnancy may raise the risk of complications during pregnancy or delivery, low birth weight or premature birth. So don't wait for the blood test if you are feeling blue. And remember this is common and normal so there is no need to be ashamed of the thoughts and feelings. Your hormones are all over the place, how can anyone expect you to be as cool as a cucumber?