I wanted to post some info pertaining to this topic.
I feel it is a very important message and I want to let other mom's know they are not alone... especially during a time when they feel completely helpless.
Postpartum depression is moderate to severe depression in a woman after she has given birth. It may occur soon after delivery or up to a year later. Most of the time, it occurs within the first 3 months after delivery.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Women commonly have mood changes during pregnancy, especially after delivery. These mood changes may be caused by changes in hormone levels. Many non-hormonal factors may also affect mood during this period:
- Changes in your body from pregnancy and delivery
- Changes in work and social relationships
- Having less time and freedom for yourself
- Lack of sleep
- Worries about your ability as a mother
Postpartum depression may occur when the baby blues do not fade away or when signs of depression start 1 or more months after childbirth.
You may have a higher chance of postpartum depression if you:
- Are under age 20
- Currently abuse alcohol, take illegal substances, or smoke (these also cause serious medical health risks for the baby)
- Did not plan the pregnancy, or had mixed feelings about the pregnancy
- Had depression, bipolar disorder (for example, manic depression), or an anxiety disorder before your pregnancy, or with a previous pregnancy
- Had a stressful event during the pregnancy or delivery, including personal illness, death or illness of a loved one, a difficult or emergency delivery, premature delivery, or illness or birth defect in the baby
- Have a close family member who has had depression or anxiety
- Have a poor relationship with your significant other or are single
- Have financial problems (low income, inadequate housing)
- Have little support from family, friends, or your significant other
The symptoms of postpartum depression are the same as the symptoms of depression that occurs at other times in life. Along with a sad or depressed mood, you may have some of the following symptoms:
- Agitation or irritability
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Feeling withdrawn or unconnected
- Lack of pleasure or interest in most or all activities
- Loss of concentration
- Loss of energy
- Problems doing tasks at home or work
- Negative feelings toward the baby
- Significant anxiety
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Trouble sleeping
- Be unable to care for herself or her baby
- Be afraid to be alone with her baby
- Have negative feelings toward the baby or even think about harming the baby (Although these feelings are scary, they are almost never acted on. Still you should tell your doctor about them right away.)
- Worry intensely about the baby, or have little interest in the baby
A new mother who has any symptoms of postpartum depression should take steps right away to get help.
Here are some other helpful tips:
- Ask your partner, family, and friends for help with the baby's needs and in the home.
- Don't hide your feelings. Talk about them with your partner, family, and friends.
- Don't make any major life changes during pregnancy or right after giving birth.
- Don't try to do too much, or to be perfect.
- Make time to go out, visit friends, or spend time alone with your partner.
- Rest as much as you can. Sleep when the baby is sleeping.
- Talk with other mothers or join a support group.
- If you are diagnosed with depression, you may need to be followed closely for at least 6 months.
- There are several types of antidepressant medications that may be given to breastfeeding mothers.
- Ask your doctor or nurse for a referral to a mental health therapist. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) are types of talk therapy that have been found effective for postpartum depression.
If left untreated, postpartum depression can last for months or years, and you may be at risk of harming yourself or your baby.
The potential long-term complications are the same as in major depression.
Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
Calling your health care provider
- Your baby blues don't go away after 2 weeks
- Symptoms of depression get more intense
- Symptoms of depression begin at any time after delivery, even many months later
- It is hard for you to perform tasks at work or at home
- You cannot care for yourself or your baby
- You have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- You develop thoughts that are not based in reality, or you start hearing or seeing things that other people cannot
Having good social support from family, friends, and coworkers may help reduce the seriousness of postpartum depression, but may not prevent it.
Screening questionnaires may help detect depression or risks for depression early.
Women who had postpartum depression after past pregnancies may be less likely to develop postpartum depression again if they start taking antidepressant medications after they deliver.