Many Women Experience Postpartum Depression After Birth
Many people have the assumption that once a mother gives birth to their child, life is all sunshine and rainbows. However, new moms face many challenges in getting used to life with a newborn. Lack of sleep, new responsibilities, and breast pain from nursing can be just a few of the challenges new mothers face. Many don’t understand the emotional pain that follows childbirth. We are not talking about the “baby blues” but rather postpartum depression.
Nearly 15% of all new mothers experience postpartum depression (PPD). While this condition can be successfully treated, many still do not understand PPD.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a deeply painful depression that a mother can have once they have a baby. Mothers can experience this any time during the baby’s first year, but more often than not, its effects are felt in the first 3 weeks.
Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, and even anger can plague many mothers. They may not feel like they want to bond with their child or even care for them. PPD does not just affect first-time mothers. Many mothers have experienced this condition even after they had a child before.
Postpartum depression is not the same as the “baby blues”. The “baby blues” is a much milder case. It is described with feelings of worry, unhappiness, and fatigue following their child’s birth. It takes a lot of work to care for a child, so it is normal for many mothers to feel worried and become tired caring for them. Roughly 80% of mothers are affected by this, but the symptoms are mild and last just a week or two before they go away on their own.
All cases of postpartum depression are different, but there are some common symptoms to keep an eye out for:
- Extreme sadness
- Feelings of hopelessness, despair, or emptiness
- Frequent crying, often with no apparent reason
- Feeling overly anxious
- Sleeping too much
- Trouble focusing, remembering, or making decision
- Feelings of anger or rage
- Eating too much or not at all
- Less interest in sex, self-care, and other activities you once enjoyed
- Trouble feeling close to your baby, or not wanting to bond with them
- Thoughts of harming herself or the baby
It is important to be as conscious of your feelings as possible and express them to your spouse if they continue to become more extreme. Contact a counselor to help manage your condition.
The exact cause for postpartum depression is not exactly known as a number of reasons can cause it. Many causes do include:
- Hormones: Your hormone levels rise during pregnancy, but they quickly drop once your child is born. Estrogen and progesterone are two hormones that do drop. This rapid change can cause many women to feel depression.
- History of Depression: If you have had depression before, or if it runs in your family, giving birth to a baby may trigger postpartum depression.
- Life Problems: If the circumstances around your pregnancy are less than favorable, such as never wanting to be pregnant, family member or partner not caring for the child, and others, depression can manifest in the mother. Money issues, job troubles, and hectic home life can also lead to PPD.
- Substance Abuse: If prior to your pregnancy you relied on substances, you are more likely to experience PPD. This can be even higher if you struggled during pregnancy with them.
The only way to be properly diagnosed with postpartum depression is by seeing a doctor. If you believe you may have it, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. If this is the case, there are treatments to help you feel like yourself again. Many doctors will recommend antidepressants to help you manage your emotions and balance your brain chemistry. Counseling is another form of treatment that has been effective in treating those suffering from PPD. You can learn ways to recognize these thoughts and feelings and how to best cope with them.
Other helpful tips include:
- Meeting simple goals
- Surrounding yourself with those who love you
Postpartum depression can be a difficult condition for many mothers to face. They may feel guilty for these emotions, which will only increase their symptoms. It is important to remember that you are not alone, and that help is out there. The team of counselors at Lifeworks Counseling Center is here to help treat your PPD and get you back to feeling like yourself again.