Postpartum Mental Health
When Postpartum Days Don’t Feel Like A Fairy Tale
Bringing home a new baby can be an exciting time. However, for most women, the first few weeks postpartum don’t necessarily feel like a fairy tale. Feeling teary-eyed, emotional, and discouraged are all common after bringing home a new addition to the family.
Baby blues are normal
After giving birth, up to 75% of women experience some form of the baby blues. Rapid changes in hormone levels, lack of sleep, and the general stress of adding a new member to the family can all contribute to women feeling more emotional than usual. Most women will experience some weepiness, mood swings, and a sense of feeling overwhelmed.
When it’s time for medical attention
Some women may experience these negative feelings for longer than just a week or two. These feelings of depression are often diagnosed as postpartum depression (PPD). This is a very real condition that can affect anyone. Having postpartum depression does not mean that the new mom has done anything wrong or is weak. Postpartum depression is a mental health condition that can be treated successfully.
Symptoms of depression
In the first few weeks after giving birth, a woman may have a hard time distinguishing between baby blues and postpartum depression. As time goes on, if feelings of symptoms last, or if negative feelings interfere with the woman’s ability to care for the baby, this could be a sign of postpartum depression. Other signs of the condition include:
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Changes in appetite
- Excessive crying
- Severe mood swings
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Anxiety or panic attacks
Postpartum depression risks
Women who have a personal history or family history of depression or other mental health conditions may be more likely to develop postpartum depression. The condition is also more prevalent in situations where the pregnancy was accompanied by other stressors, such as financial burdens or strained relationships. Close monitoring by a physician during pregnancy can help decrease a woman’s risk of depression.
Baby blues don’t last forever
In some cases, support groups or counseling alone will help in a woman’s mental health treatment. In other cases, a healthcare provider may prescribe antidepressants, even if a woman is pregnant or nursing. About 90% of cases of postpartum depression can be treated successfully with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. The good news is that there is hope. The baby blues do not last forever and treatment options are available. Each case should be evaluated individually by a healthcare provider who can make proper recommendations.