What You Should know About Postpartum Depression
A once avoided topic of conversation is now a common discussion amongst medical professionals, moms and moms-to-be—postpartum depression. “Postpartum depression is common among mothers after giving birth and can vary from mild to severe,” says Julia Willner MD, PIH Health OB/Gyn. Not to be mistaken with baby blues, which only lasts a few days to up to two weeks after giving birth, postpartum depression can last months and even longer if not treated.
“It is important to know and spot the symptoms of postpartum depression as soon as possible so that the condition does not worsen,” says Dr. Willner. “Talk to your significant other or family members if you’re feeling sad or overwhelmed. Keeping close relationships with family and loved ones can help you feel better, and can also be a motivating factor to seek professional help if needed.”
Symptoms of postpartum depression include the following:
- Excessive crying
- Severe mood swings
- Anxiety or feeling overwhelmed
- Panic attacks
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty bonding with baby
- Loss of appetite or over eating
- Feeling down or depressed for a long period of time (more than two weeks)
In addition to these symptoms, women who just gave birth should be aware of any severe changes in mood or behavior. “Women who have thoughts of harming themselves or their babies, feelings of paranoia or hallucinations should contact their doctor immediately as these can be signs of postpartum psychosis, a rare and more severe postpartum condition,” says Dr. Willner.
Causes for postpartum depression can vary depending on whether or not the mother suffered from a mental illness or mood disorder prior to giving birth or becoming pregnant and can also be combined with the change in hormones from childbirth. Many factors play into postpartum depression which is why it is important for new mothers to seek help and talk to their doctor should they have any symptoms.
Treatment for postpartum depression may include talk therapy, anti-depressants or both. Medical professionals will decide what treatment is best based on the patient’s needs. A healthy diet and moderate exercise such as walking outdoors can also help new mom’s feel better. Women can talk to their doctor about safe exercises after childbirth as well.
For information on pregnancy care before, during and after, visit: PIHHealth.org/Pregnancy.