Postpartum Depression

It is not uncommon for new mothers to feel overwhelmed. Lack of sleep and the sudden decrease of hormones after giving birth can trigger sudden mood swings and anxiety. It is no wonder that 80 percent of new mothers complain of the “baby blues.” These symptoms typically subside in a few weeks and should not be confused with postpartum depression.

We have all heard the heartbreaking news stories about mothers who harm their children due to postpartum depression. These are certainly extreme examples but serve to demonstrate the severity of the condition. A diagnosis of postpartum depression should never be taken lightly.

Symptoms

Many women are embarrassed by their feelings. They may feel like a failure and blame themselves. It is not unusual for a young mother to try to “tough it out” and attempt to hide her symptoms and fears from family and friends.

Seek medical advice if you experience or recognize any persisting symptoms in a loved one. Because the symptoms of postpartum depression vary greatly it is important to be diagnosed by a medical professional.

  • Feelings of sadness. Unable to control emotions. Cries easily.
  • Oversleeping or insomnia.
  • Losing interest in past activities and avoiding family and friends.
  • Uncontrolled feelings of anger and rage.
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby. Doubt capability for caring for the child.
  • Over or under-eating.
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby.

Seek help immediately if you or a loved one is in crisis.

Professional Care

Postpartum depression is sometimes described as being engulfed in a black hole with no sign of light. It is very difficult to recover without professional help. Studies have shown that 50 percent of women who seek medical care experience symptoms for approximately one year while 30 percent of untreated women may suffer from symptoms for three years or longer.

Once diagnosed with postpartum depression your physician may prescribe an antidepressant, suggest therapy or recommend a combination of both.

Talking to a counselor or therapist may seem intimidating in the beginning. You may be nervous about saying the wrong thing or too embarrassed to honestly discuss your feelings. It is important to remember you are in a safe place. The therapist is trained to listen without judgment and everything you say remains confidential.

Educate your family and friends about postpartum depression. Consider joining a support group. Just don’t make the journey alone.