Is it Postpartum Depression? Symptoms, Risk Factors, and More
Whether you’re a new mother, or having another child, the addition of a new baby in the family is an exciting time. While pregnancy itself comes with its own set of emotions and the potential for complications, many women, up to 1 in 7, experience postpartum depression after giving birth. Though the disorder is common, it can leave mothers feeling isolated. Today, we’ll delve into what exactly postpartum depression is, how to identify its signs, and what your treatment options are. We want to emphasize that no matter what challenges you face as a mother, postpartum depression and it symptoms are something that can be treated and is not something you should suffer through alone.
More Than Baby Blues
For many mothers, postpartum ‘baby blues’ are common but usually only last a few days to one to two weeks after childbirth. Baby blues include symptoms like crying spells, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and mood swings, but If you’re exhibiting these symptoms, there isn’t reason to fret just yet. It’s normal to feel this way after such an emotional experience like having a baby, but if your symptoms aren’t dissipating after a couple of weeks, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about it.
Common Signs and Symptoms
Postpartum depression is better defined as a serious, long-lasting form of depression that occurs ‘postpartum’, or after childbirth. It’s accompanied by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness and emptiness. For some mothers, postpartum depression can interfere with their ability to take care of their baby or handle daily tasks. Symptoms can show up in.
Telltale signs and symptoms of postpartum depression include:
• Loss of appetite or overeating
• Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
• Anxiety —all or most of the time— or panic attacks
• Severe mood swings
• Intense Irritability and anger
• Withdrawing from friends or family
• Crying uncontrollably
• Losing interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed
• Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, or feeling like a bad mother
• Not having any interest in the baby or not feeling connected to the baby
• Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
• Suicidal thoughts
If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, know that help exists. You can do the following things to help yourself and others.
• Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
• Seek help from your primary care provider or other health care professional.
• Call a mental health professional.
• Call a suicide or crisis hotline. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use their webchat on suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.
Causes and Risk Factors
Causes of postpartum depression can usually be linked to both physical and emotional issues. The drastic hormonal changes that occur after childbirth can trigger symptoms, and the emotional changes that come with having a newborn –feelings of overwhelm, stress, sleep deprivation, anxiety, and the way you feel in your new identity as a mom– can all contribute to the disorder.
Postpartum depression is something that any mother can experience, regardless of income, age or race. For some women, the risk of postpartum depression is higher based on a variety of factors. Women who have a personal history before or during pregnancy or family history of depression or bipolar disorder are more at risk. Women who’ve experienced stressful situations, such as relationship or financial issues, the death of a loved one, or lack of support are more at risk as well.
More risk factors include:
• Having twins, triplets, or other multiple births
• Having a baby with special needs or other health problems
• Having a challenging baby who cries more than usual, is hard to comfort, or whose sleep and hunger needs are irregular and hard to predict
• First time motherhood, very young motherhood, or older motherhood
• Had problems with a previous pregnancy or birth
• Had an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy
• Having difficulties breastfeeding
It’s important to note that postpartum depression is treatable and many women learn to live a more full and healthy life with their new baby, regardless of their diagnosis. Treatment for postpartum depression emulates treatment for other mental health disorders, usually including a combination of psychotherapy and medication like antidepressants. Therapy is especially helpful because with the right therapist, you can learn coping skills and strategies for alleviating postpartum depression symptoms. Other supplemental treatments can include lifestyle changes and relaxation techniques such as diet and exercise, massage, yoga and meditation, and mindfulness.
Think you may be exhibiting postpartum depression symptoms? It’s imperative to talk to your doctor as soon as you can because early detection and intervention make a huge difference in treatment outcomes. You don’t have to struggle with this disorder alone. Start your search for a postpartum depression health and wellness professional now.
Get blog posts like these and other tips and resources along with local wellness events in your area, right in your inbox. Subscribe to the Wellistic Newsletter!