Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression: What You Need to Know


Giving birth is often an experience full of emotions: joy, happiness, a sense of being overwhelmed, sadness, anxiety, and a plethora of other feelings.  Many women find that navigating their emotions after birth is just as challenging as dealing with them during their pregnancy.  Many people describe these feelings as the baby blues.  Baby blues are very different than postpartum depression but the two are often confused for one another. The baby blues can be identified by symptoms such as anxiety, sadness, crying, and difficulty sleeping.  While these symptoms may be perfectly normal, they can also be indicators of postpartum depression or (PPD).  Never disregard your feelings as simply being the baby blues.  If symptoms do not resolve quickly or are severe in any way, speak to your licensed professional counselor immediately.


Symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

If you are experiencing symptoms that resemble the baby blues but aren’t going away or increase in strength or frequency it is important to talk to your physician.  PPD can occur immediately after birth or much later.  PPD symptoms can be any of the following:

  • Depression
  • Excessive crying
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Inability to sleep or focus
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Panic attacks
  • Inability to bond with your baby
  • Thoughts about harming yourself or others (Check Here)

If you have even one of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.  Ask your loved ones and support system to be on the lookout for these symptoms as it is often difficult to identify them yourself when you are suffering from PPD.  Be open to concern from others and do not hesitate to reach out for help.  Your doctor, obstetrician, or professional therapist should be able to use their experience and expertise to help you identify and treat PPD.


Postpartum Depression Causes

Postpartum depression effects new mothers after the birth of their babies.  It can strike as soon as birth or months after the fact.  Postpartum depression can’t be linked to any one cause.  There are many different factors that can contribute to this condition.  A woman’s body spends almost ten months creating a home for an unborn baby.  Internal organs shift and hormones increase and adapt to provide the healthiest environment possible for the baby.  Once the baby is born, the woman’s body rapidly shifts back to functioning as it was before.  The dramatic shift in hormones that happen after birth can contribute to any and all of the symptoms above.  In addition, a new baby often creates an environment where the mother is sleep-deprived and emotionally and physically exhausted.  A newborn baby that sleeps only a couple hours at a time while needing constant care can quickly tire his or her parents.  Sleep deprivation has a severe impact on a person’s emotional and cognitive functioning.  This state of exhaustion coupled with rapidly changing hormones can all contribute to PPD.  Because there is not one root cause of postpartum depression, there is also not one solution.  Treatment is comprehensive and will depend on each individual and the severity of the condition.


Postpartum Depression Treatment

Postpartum depression treatment can be very simple and straightforward or much more involved depending on the causes and severity of your symptoms.    The first step towards getting treatment is asking for help.  Whether you think you have PPD or just the baby blues it is important to talk to your doctor at all follow up appointments and let him or her know how you are feeling.  Try to assess honestly what your challenges are and communicate them clearly to those around you.  Your physician or therapist may ask you to complete questionnaires or order blood tests to check your hormone and thyroid levels when evaluating you for PPD.

If your treating professional diagnoses you with postpartum depression he or she may pursue several different types of therapy simultaneously.  If your blood tests come back and show under or overperforming hormones or thyroid, your physician may order medication to help equalize these things.  Also, depending on your symptoms, your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional (Learn More).  While your physician is an expert in your physical health and body mechanics, a mental health professional can help you identify your symptoms and improve your mental health.  This can be done through a variety of exercises and techniques.  Your mental health practitioner may also ask to include your partner or loved ones so that they can help support your treatment.  Anti-depressants may also be used to help manage postpartum depression.  Your symptoms and the underlying causes will ultimately help guide your medical professionals to the most appropriate treatment plan.

For you to truly be able to care for your family, you first need to take care of yourself.  If you are suffering from any of the symptoms discussed, call your doctor, obstetrician, therapist or our office –call someone.  PPD often leaves sufferers unable to accurately discern their symptoms and the severity of such.  A medical professional can offer an unbiased evaluation and assistance if needed.  You should never be ashamed to ask for help.

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