What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is a serious illness that can occur in the first few months after childbirth and can make new moms feel very sad. They may have trouble caring for and bonding with their baby. The symptoms of postpartum depression can last for many months.
What causes postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression seems to be brought on by the changes in hormone levels that occur after pregnancy. Any woman can get postpartum depression in the months after childbirth.
The risk of postpartum depression increases if the new mom:
- Had depression or postpartum depression before
- Experiences poor support from your partner, friends or family
- Has a sick or colicky baby
- Has a lot of other stress in your life
What are the symptoms?
A woman who has postpartum depression may:
- Feel very sad, hopeless, and empty. Some women also may feel anxious
- Lose pleasure in everyday things
- Not feel hungry and may lose weight or some women feel more hungry and gain weight
- Have trouble sleeping
- Not be able to concentrate
These symptoms can occur in the first day or two after the birth or they can occur after a couple of weeks.
How is postpartum depression diagnosed?
A doctor will do a physical exam and ask about symptoms. Tell your doctor about any feelings of baby blues at your first checkup after the baby is born. The doctor will want to follow up with you to see how the new mom is feeling.
How is it treated?
Sacha Kang-Chou MD, an OB/Gyn with PIH Health Physicians says “Postpartum depression may be treated with counseling and antidepressant medicines or just counseling alone. Many women need both and that’s okay. It’s important to help yourself get better by seeking treatment and eating well, getting some exercise every day and getting as much sleep as possible. Going for walks with fresh air and sunshine is a good place to start.”
“Try not to feel bad about yourself for having this illness. It doesn't mean you're a bad mother. Many women have postpartum depression. It may take time, but you can get better with treatment.”