Over the past few years, the topic of depression has become more talked about in our culture. Many celebrities opened up about their own struggles with postpartum depression – like Courtney Cox, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Hayden Panettiere. According to MentalHelp.net, “It is estimated that up to 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point.” And according to the CDC, “About 1 in 9 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression.”
What is postpartum depression?
The National Institute of Mental Health describes postpartum depression as, “A mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. Mothers with postpartum depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that may make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or for others.”
What causes it?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there is no specific cause for postpartum depression. But rather, it is a reaction to a combination of physical and emotional changes that mothers face throughout the time of their pregnancy and their child’s birth. Pregnancy affects a woman physically and emotionally, especially since hormone levels rise as a result of bearing a child. Because every woman’s hormones are different and each pregnancy is different, no mother can control the postpartum depression they may face. Therefore, it is not a result of something they did or did not do. It’s how their body and emotions are adjusting to caring for their newborn.
How do I know if I have it?
Because this type of depression varies for every mother, the only way to know for sure that you have postpartum depression is to be diagnosed by a doctor or your healthcare provider. Having this diagnosis will help you know for sure if you are experiencing this type of depression and what kind of treatment you need.
What is the difference between postpartum depression and the “baby blues”?
The “baby blues” is a term that describes feelings of worry, unhappiness, and fatigue which many women experience after having a baby. Taking care of a new baby can be overwhelming, especially for a new mother. Baby blues are said to affect 80 percent of mothers. However, they are somewhat mild, last a week or two, and go away on their own. Baby blues can share symptoms with postpartum depression, but are usually less severe and not as constant.
What are common symptoms?
Some common symptoms of postpartum depression are: feeling exceedingly sad, worried, anxious, angry, or moody; having trouble concentrating or making decisions; losing interest in enjoyable activities; having trouble eating and/or sleeping; having constant aches or pains; avoiding friends and family; and thinking of harming oneself. Other postpartum depression symptoms include not being able to bond with your baby, constantly doubting your ability to care for your child, etc.
How can it be improved?
Postpartum depression can be improved and managed. There are multiple ways to treat postpartum depression. After you have talked to your doctor, they might prescribe a type of antidepressant that can better regulate your mood. In addition, you may also benefit from regular counseling appointments or other forms of therapy.
If you find yourself having symptoms of postpartum depression, we encourage you to reach out to a medical professional and seek help. If you are facing an unintended pregnancy and are unsure about your options or needing some support, we are here for you. Call 540.434.7528 or schedule an appointment here.
If you are experiencing extreme depression and contemplating suicide, please call this number: 1.800.273.8255. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You are not alone.
AVA Care is here to Advocate for you, Validate your concerns and provide Answers to your questions. We are here for you – no matter what you decide. Schedule an appointment online or call 540.434.7528 today.
Dr. Teresa Klansek
The content on this page has been reviewed and approved by our Medical Director Dr. Teresa Klansek.