When motherhood doesn’t feel like you thought it would, you could be suffering from postpartum depression. You should know that it is not your fault, and you can feel better. We’re here to help.
What is Postpartum Depression?
It is very common for moms to experience the “baby blues” — a two week period where many new mothers experience mood instability, exhaustion, sleep problems, and crying. If the baby blues worsen or last longer than two weeks after delivery, you may be suffering from postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious illness and a significant health concern. It is thought to be related to an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain caused by hormonal changes after the delivery of a child and made worse by the stress of a major life change.
Research has shown that post partum depression has significant risks for the child’ cognitive, social and emotional development and can impact school readiness. In addition, depressive symptoms lead to difficulties in the mother-infant and father-mother relationships.
Approximately 10-15% of all new mothers develop symptoms consistent with a major depression in the post partum period. Of these mothers, about half will continue to have symptoms that last greater than one year.
Why Do I Feel This Way?
I should be happy but I’m so sad and tired. What’s wrong with me? I can’t take care of my baby. If these thoughts sound familiar, you are not alone. And there is help.
There is a possibility that you may be experiencing postpartum depression (PPD). PPD is a serious illness and significant health concern. It is thought to be related to an imbalance in certain chemicals in the brain caused by hormonal changes after the delivery of a child and made worse by the stress of a major life change.
Should I Get Help?
Yes, you should seek help. Help is available.
Your depression is not likely to go away soon. Half of all mothers who develop postpartum depression continue to have serious symptoms when their baby turns 1 year old.
Where Can I Get help?
There are many people who can help you. Talk with your doctor or nurse. Inform them about how you are feeling and schedule an appointment to see your doctor.
What Will My Doctor Do?
Your doctor will ask you questions about your mood and may request some blood tests to rule out medical conditions. He/she will discuss treating your depression through counseling, medication or a combination of both.
Why Do Women Get Postpartum Depression?
The exact cause isn’t known. Hormone levels change during pregnancy and right after childbirth. Those hormone changes may produce chemical changes in the brain that play a part in causing depression. Feeling depressed doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person, or that you did something wrong or that you brought this on yourself.
How Long Will Postpartum Depression Last?
It’s hard to say. Some women feel better within a few weeks, but others feel depressed or “not themselves” for many months. Women who have more severe symptoms of depression or who have had depression in the past may take longer to get better. Just remember that help is available and you can get better.
Additional Things You Can Do
Ask the father, other family members, or friends for help with the baby, cooking, cleaning and running errands. Do something for yourself like go for a walk, exercise, take a shower or hot bath, spend time with a friend, or play your favorite music.
Take care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, & get enough sleep. The birth of the baby is stressful on mothers and fathers. Seek counseling for yourself if you experience depression or other emotional challenges.
Signs Of Postpartum Depression
Frequent crying spells
Feelings of sadness, anxiety, worthlessness, hopelessness
Lack of energy to do everyday tasks
Difficulty sleeping even when your baby is asleep
Sense of stress that interferes with caring for yourself, the baby, or family
Loss of interest in food or thinking too much about eating
Loss of interest in caring for yourself
Difficulty concentrating and remembering things
Difficulty making decisions
Loss of interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
Too much anxiety about the baby
Lack of interest in the baby
Fears or thoughts of harming the baby
Thoughts of harming or killing yourself
Thoughts of harming the baby.
Self-testing for Depression
You can check to see if you’re depressed by filling out the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Click here to download a PDF of this scale.
The scale can be used during your pregnancy and again after your baby is two weeks old.