Can Postpartum Depression Happen to Me?
Postpartum depression, also known as "perinatal depression", is a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. Mothers with postpartum depression experience a variety of feelings such as extreme anxiety, fatigue, and sadness that make it difficult to perform everyday tasks. It is a diagnosable illness that can affect any mother regardless of their age and background, and it happens to up to 1 in 8 women. The short answer to the question in the blog post? Yes, maybe. It can be possible even without prior history of depression.
Here are a few things you should know about postpartum depression including what to look out for and what to do about it:
How to tell if it's postpartum depression versus "baby blues":
First, let's differentiate postpartum depression from the feelings of "baby blues", feeling stressed, sad, tired, or moody following a baby's birth. The first symptoms of postpartum depression can be very similar to that of the initial baby blues. Experiencing the baby blues is normal and happens anywhere between 2-3 days up to two weeks after transitioning from the hospital to a new routine for a variety of reasons: lack of sleep, overwhelming emotions, and physical recovery.
Many women can differentiate baby blues from postpartum depression after the 2-3 week mark. If severe mood swings and anxiety don't improve in those few weeks, that is a sign that you should become more aware of the possibilities of developing postpartum depression.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression:
Things that you should look out for if you might be experiencing postpartum depression are:
- feelings of anger or irritability
- racing thoughts
- irregular eating habits, including eating too much or too little
- feeling guilty or worthless
- uncontrollable sadness or misery for long periods of time
- irregular sleep, including sleeping too much or not being able to sleep at all
- difficulty in decision making
- lack of interest in your baby, family, friends, or even taking care of yourself
- thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
Causes of Postpartum Depression:
For most diagnoses, there is not a single reason why a mother might experience postpartum depression. Research suggests that it can be caused by a variety of genetic or environmental factors.
Some examples could include past trauma, demanding tasks from work, or though women are at greater risk if they have personal or family history of depression or bipolar disorder.
How to Help Postpartum Depression:
There are a few things I suggest when it comes to helping with postpartum depression.
First, please know the tools that are available to you before you give birth. Do you have a partner, close friend, or relative to help take care of your baby? Do you have a support group? Do you have a licensed mental health provider or doctor you can reach? Be sure to note these down so you have access to them after the baby comes.
Next, be sure to recognize the feelings you are experiencing before and after pregnancy. Identify your habits now and take notice of the unique feelings you experience after giving birth, so you can get help when you need it.
Lastly, don't face PPD alone. If you need help figuring out what you can do before giving birth, please reach me so we can figure out a plan.
Postpartum depression can affect anyone and it is not your fault, but it is a real, but treatable disorder. If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, please reach out to someone immediately including the National Suicide Prevent Hotline at 800-273-8255.