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Understanding Postpartum Depression

Having a baby can be a joyous celebration.  But what happens when the happiness and joy you were expecting to feel is replaced with feelings of dread, worthlessness, and overwhelming sadness?  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say that one in ten new mothers will experience what is known as postpartum depression.  This guide will help you to identify the symptoms of postpartum depression and give you some tips of how you can cope.  Remember that you don’t have to suffer through this alone.  There is help and there is hope.The first three months after having a baby is the most prevalent time for symptoms of postpartum depression to appear.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression:

·Feeling sad, depressed, and/or crying a lot

·Intense anxiety, rumination, obsessions

·Loss of interest in usual activities

·Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

·Feeling incompetent or inadequate to cope with the new infant

·Fatigue, irritability, sleep disturbance

·Change in appetite

·Poor concentration

·Sleep problems (not being able to sleep even when the baby is sleeping, or wanting to sleep all the time).

·Excessive worry about the baby's health

·Suicidal thoughts

·Thoughts of wanting to hurt the baby.


When to go see your doctor:

·If your depressive symptoms last longer than two weeks.

·If you are finding that you are unable to care for yourself and/or your baby.

·If you feel like hurting yourself or your baby. Please get immediate medical attention if you are feeling suicidal or thinking of causing physical harm to your baby.


How to Cope:

·Write down any symptoms you are having from the list above and take this list to your doctor or gynecologist.  They can then make a referral for you to see a therapist so you can get help.

·Depression medication may help.  There are several types of antidepressant medications that may be given to breastfeeding mothers, including nortriptyline, paroxetine, and sertraline.

·Psychotherapy with a trusted therapist may help you to discuss your fears and sadness in a safe environment.

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