Postpartum Depression: Life After Pregnancy
Giving birth to your baby is an exciting time in your life, but it can bring on a mix of emotions too. You can have feelings of happiness and joy or even anxiety and fear, but what most new mothers don’t realize is that they can have feelings of depression too.
Actually, many new moms experience the “postpartum baby blues” after giving birth, which usually includes mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and problems sleeping. Postpartum baby blues typically begin within the first two or three days after delivery, and might last for up to two weeks.
Although many new moms experience the baby blues, there is a more severe and longer lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression. This type of depression isn’t anyone’s fault; it can simply be a complication of giving birth.
If you have postpartum depression, immediate treatment can help you manage your symptoms and enjoy your newborn and life after pregnancy.
What Causes This Type of Depression?
There’s no single root cause of postpartum depression, but physical changes and emotional issues may play a huge role.
Physical changes contributing to postpartum depression you may experience after giving birth might be due to a dramatic drop in your estrogen and progesterone levels. Other hormones produced by your thyroid gland also can drop dramatically, leaving you feeling tired, sluggish, and depressed.
There are many emotional issues you can experience that can contribute to postpartum depression. Feeling overwhelmed and sleep deprived might cause you to have trouble handling the most minor problems or you may even feel anxious over your ability to care for your baby. New moms may even have negative feelings about their appearance, such as feeling less attractive since giving birth. Postpartum depression can also be due to new moms struggling with their identity after giving birth or feeling like they lost control over their life.
Symptoms to Look Out For
The signs and symptoms of postpartum depression are more intense and last longer than the baby blues. These symptoms can eventually interfere with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Symptoms will usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but there is a chance they may begin later – up to six months after birth.
Postpartum depression symptoms may include the following:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy
- Loss of appetite or extreme overeating
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Not being able to think clearly or make decisions
- Intense anger
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
How to Cope
The already overwhelming, exhausting period following a baby’s birth is more difficult when depression occurs. But remember, postpartum depression is never anyone’s fault. It’s a common medical condition that needs treatment. Untreated postpartum depression may last for many months or longer if you don’t get help, and can have dangerous consequences for the mother and her family.
If you’re feeling depressed after your baby’s birth, you may be hesitant or embarrassed to admit it. But if you are experiencing any symptoms of postpartum depression, don’t be embarrassed to talk to someone about your feelings.
Women First Health Center’s care does not stop after delivery. We love caring for our patients throughout their reproductive years and beyond as they live healthy lives with their families. If you or your partner is suffering from any of the above symptoms of postpartum depression, you need to call WFHC. Call us today at 1 (973) 669-5711 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.