Postpartum depression happens during a time when new moms expect to be in a mental happiness high place. Many women experience postpartum depression (PPD) after giving birth. This medical condition is characterized by intense sadness, anxiety, and fatigue that last a long time and make it hard for a woman to care for herself and her baby.
PPD can happen anytime after childbirth, but it usually starts within the first few weeks postpartum. Affecting up to 6.5% to 20% of women who have recently given birth, PPD is a common complication. Half of the women diagnosed with PPD have never had depression before. They may have had signs of depression during pregnancy. If a woman has PPD in one pregnancy, she is likely to have it in future pregnancies. It is crucial to get treatment for postpartum depression to improve well-being and care for oneself and one’s baby.
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
Postpartum depression (PPD) is is characterized by persistent sadness, anxiety, and other symptoms lasting more than two weeks. If you are experiencing five or more of the following signs and symptoms, you may have PPD:
- Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Shame, guilt, or feelings of failure
- Panic or fear
- Severe mood swings
- Lack of interest in normally enjoyable activities
- Constant fatigue
- Changes in appetite (eating more or less than usual)
- Weight gain or loss
- Sleep disturbances (difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much)
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Difficulty bonding with the baby
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
- Thoughts of suicide
New mothers often feel embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty about experiencing postpartum depression (PPD) and may be reluctant to seek help. However, it is essential to remember that PPD can affect any woman and does not reflect poorly on one’s ability to be a good mother. Do not suffer in silence – help is available. (March of Dimes)
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
There is no one cause of postpartum depression (PPD), as it is thought to be the result of a combination of factors. Some potential contributors to PPD include:
- Hormonal changes: Pregnancy and childbirth can cause significant hormonal changes that affect mood.
- Stress: The physical and emotional demands of pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for a newborn can be overwhelming and lead to stress and exhaustion.
- Lack of support: Having a network of supportive family and friends can be significant in helping new mothers manage the demands of motherhood. Lack of support can increase the risk of PPD.
- Personal history: Women who have an account of depression or anxiety or have experienced traumatic childbirth may be more at risk for PPD.
- Genetics: There may be a genetic component to PPD, as it is more common in women with a family history of depression.
Getting Help for Postpartum Depression
There is increasing awareness among obstetricians, pediatricians, and other healthcare providers about addressing perinatal depression. Recent medical guidelines recommend that healthcare providers proactively screen pregnant women and new mothers for depression and help those at risk get treatment. Being direct with your healthcare provider about your symptoms is also helpful.
Here are some steps you can take to get help:
- Talk to your healthcare provider: Your healthcare provider can help you understand your symptoms and determine the best course of treatment. They may recommend medications, therapy, or a combination of both.
- Seek support from loved ones: It is essential to have a supportive network of friends and family who can help you through this difficult time.
- Consider joining a support group: Many support groups are available for mothers with postpartum depression. These groups can provide a safe and supportive environment where you can share your experiences and get support from others who have gone through similar experiences.
- Take care of yourself: Taking care of yourself physically and emotionally is essential. This may include getting enough rest, eating a healthy diet, and finding time for self-care activities such as exercise or hobbies.
There is no shame in seeking help and treatment for postpartum depression. You can recover and enjoy your new role as a mother with the proper support and treatment. Remember, it is not uncommon for new mothers to experience sadness, anxiety, or exhaustion. However, suppose these feelings persist or interfere with your ability to care for yourself or your baby. In that case, it is vital to seek help. Enjoy being a new mom and remember, you’re not alone in this.
Women’s Health. “Postpartum Depression.” Postpartum Depression | Office on Women’s Health, www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/postpartum-depression.
March of Dimes. “Postpartum Depression.” March of Dimes, www.marchofdimes.org/find-support/topics/postpartum/postpartum-depression.
Chatterjee, Rhitu. “What Is Postpartum Depression? How to Recognize the Signs and Get Help.” NPR, NPR, 28 Jan. 2020, www.npr.org/2020/01/27/800139124/what-is-postpartum-depression-recognizing-the-signs-and-getting-help.