In the first days and weeks after giving birth, most women experience a mild form of sadness that is commonly referred to as the “baby blues.” It is due in large part to the dramatic hormonal changes that follow childbirth.
However, some women have a more intense type of emotional experience known as postpartum depression (PPD). In contrast to the “baby blues,” PPD can last for a long time and not just bring about sadness, but affect a woman’s ability to get through her day.
Symptoms of PPD include:
- Anxiety, panic attacks or racing thoughts
- Feeling withdrawn and distant
- Loss of interest in activities
- Changes in eating habits
- Feeling tired and changes in sleeping habits
- Anger and irritability
Since a personal history of depression can increase your risk, talk to your gynecologist if you have struggled with depression or anxiety in the past. By discussing these issues while you are still pregnant, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing PPD.
Although many times PPD shows up soon after childbirth, sometimes symptoms may not occur until months later. If you are experiencing signs of postpartum depression, talk to your gynecologist so he or she can get you the help you need. Postpartum depression is a medical condition that can be treated.
- A personal or family history of depression and other mental health issues
- Significant stress, such as financial strain, job changes, illness, or the death of a loved one
- Lack of a strong support network
- Caring for a child with special needs
Sometimes, PPD goes away on its own. However, symptoms usually go away more quickly with help. Often a combination of these treatments is most helpful:
- Talking to a counselor
- Taking antidepressant medications
- Making lifestyle changes such as:
- Getting more sleep
- Getting more help from family and friends
- Eating healthy foods
- Joining support groups for new mothers