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
·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
·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.
·Join a support group for mothers who suffer from postpartum depression. You will be able to vent your frustrations and talk about your experience with people who will understand what you are going through and will not judge you.
·Take care of your basic needs. Don’t forget to eat, rest when you can, and get some sleep. Sleep or rest when your baby naps.
·Ask for help. Ask your spouse, family or friends to give you a break so you can rest, take a shower, or sleep. Hire a babysitter if it is feasible.
·Get out of the house. Get out the stroller and take your baby for a walk. Some fresh air and sunshine can help to lighten your mood and change your perspective.
·Don’t blame yourself. You are not a bad mother because you are experiencing depression. There are many other new mothers out there who are feeling the same way.
·Lessen your expectations of what you do around the house. Your main job is to take care of yourself and your baby. Your house may not be anywhere close to spotless and that’s okay. Conserve your energy for tasks that are essential for your well being and your baby’s.
For more information and support please visit our postpartum depression page.
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