+ What is postpartum depression?
The days and weeks after the birth of your baby can be an amazing time filled with awe, joy and feeling of bliss. It is also a time where your hormones are rapidly shifting, often leading to what is called “baby blues”. It is not uncommon to have periods of weepiness, to feel anxious or even overwhelmed. This period may last a few days or weeks, but as your hormones normalize, these symptoms go away. CDC research indicates, however, that 1 in 9 women experience postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is similar to the baby blues, but is more severe and can last longer, especially if left untreated. Symptoms of postpartum depression usually appear within the first few weeks after birth, but can begin later, up to six months after birth. The links below can help you get help, PPD is a real thing and no one should suffer alone.
What are the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression?
- Feeling down or depressed for most of the day for several weeks or more
- Feeling distant and withdrawn from family and friends
- A loss of interest in activities (including sex)
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Feeling tired most of the day
- Feeling angry or irritable
- Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
- Having feelings of anxiety, worry, panic attacks or racing thoughts
- Possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself
Adjusting to life as a mom can be stressful and balancing care for yourself, your baby and perhaps other children at home can be demanding, exhausting and overwhelming. Having feelings such as sadness, anxiety or depression can lead to feelings of guilt and shame and it is important to know that postpartum depression is not your fault. You are not doing anything wrong or causing these feelings to come up.
Postpartum depression is a medical condition and can be treated.
What causes postpartum depression?
A number of factors can lead to postpartum depression. Women with a history of depression and other mental health conditions face a higher risk of PPD. The following factors can also increase one’s risk:
- Hormonal changes that follow childbirth
- Emotional stressors, including financial strain, job changes, illness, or the death of a loved one
- Changes in social relationships, or lack of a strong support network
- Raising a child with special needs or an infant that is challenging to care for
- Having a family history of mental health issues
- Inadequate support in caring for yourself and your baby
- Complications in pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
- Moms who have gone through infertility treatments
- Moms with a thyroid imbalance or other health related issue
- A traumatic birth experience or loss
While some women are predisposed to experiencing postpartum depression, PPD can affect anyone, including women who experience a normal delivery and give birth to a healthy child.
How is postpartum depression treated?
If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression it is important to reach out as soon as possible and let someone know how you are feeling. There are amazing resources and help available to you. Meeting with a counselor or therapist who specializes in PPD can be immensely helpful, and in some situations medication can help.
Changes to your daily routine can also help to reduce some symptoms of postpartum depression. The following strategies may help you manage the increased stress that accompanies new parenthood:
- Getting enough sleep
- Finding time to exercise
- Surrounding yourself with a supportive network of family and friends
- Eating regular, nourishing meals
- Asking others to watch your baby so that you can have a much-needed break
If you are experiencing any symptoms of postpartum depression or you’re not sure what you’re feeling but you’re concerned, reach out as soon as possible and talk with someone about how you’re feeling.