“You just had a baby, you should be happy.” But, this isn’t the case for approximately 10 to 15 percent of new mother who suffer from postpartum depression (PPD). Many women never seek treatment, feeling ashamed they aren’t thrilled about motherhood or worried about what others will think of them. Postpartum depression can be debilitating and cause long-term problems when not treated. The following are five things you should know about PPD:
Postpartum depression and the baby blues are not the same thing. In the few weeks after giving birth, your hormones fluctuate, you aren’t getting enough sleep, you are overwhelmed. All of this leads to what is called the baby blues. You might feel teary, high levels of stress, tired and have mood swings. With the baby blues the symptoms are mild. They start within a few days of childbirth and usually go away within a few weeks. But with PPD, the symptoms are much more serious. Symptoms can begin shortly after childbirth or not start for several months. Your symptoms may include a change in appetite, fatigue, irritability, hopelessness, anxiety, insomnia and frequent crying. Some women experience only some of these symptoms.
PPD goes away on its own. You may be told, “Its normal, it will go away once you get some sleep,” “You’ll be fine,” or “You just need to get out of the house.” The fact is, PPD often doesn’t go away on its own and when untreated can create long-term problems. If your symptoms are severe, you don’t have interest in your baby, have thoughts of harming your baby or feel hopeless about the future, talk with a medical professional.
You can have PPD even if you don’t cry all the time. One of the myths about PPD is that women with PPD cry all day, every day. While some women do frequently cry, not all women do. Some feel sad, hopeless, anxious and depressed without frequently bouts of crying.
Having PPD does not mean you are going to hurt your child. We hear in the news about women with PPD who hurt or killed their child. Women with PPD don’t hurt their children. Another disorder, called postpartum psychosis, has a risk of harming children. There is more of a risk of suicide or self-harm from depression with PPD.
PPD does not make you a bad mother. Sometimes, PPD causes you to lose interest in your baby, feeling disconnected. You might worry that you aren’t bonding with your new baby. These are common feelings in new moms with PPD. It doesn’t mean you are a bad mother or that you won’t ever feel the close mother/child bond. One of the symptoms of PPD is feeling like your situation is never going to change. With treatment, you will get better and you will enjoy your child.
Remember, PPD is not your fault. Some mothers think that you are somehow to blame. You might think that it is your fault or feel guilty because you don’t feel overjoyed with your new baby. Hormones play a large role in PPD. After pregnancy there is a large drop in estrogen and progesterone and this combined with genetics is usually the reason for your symptoms. If you think you might have PPD, talk with your doctor immediately. There is help.
“Depression During and After Pregnancy,” Updated July 16, Staff Writer, U.S. Office on Women’t Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
“Postpartum Depression,” Updated 2010, Aug, Staff Writer, American Academy of Family Physicians
Published On: January 30, 2014