Postpartum Depression: How to Spot It

As many as 15% of new mums suffer from postpartum mood disorders, including postpartum depression. You may have heard people talk about the baby blues, and the impact of postpartum hormonal changes on mood, but postpartum depression is more than that.

It’s important to be able to recognise the signs of postpartum depression in yourself and others, because the sooner this condition is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin.

It is not known what causes postpartum depression. Having a baby is a life-changing and stressful event. Exhaustion and stress are almost inevitable as you adjust to life as a new parent, and this may play a part in the onset of postpartum depression. Hormonal changes also contribute. You have an increased risk of developing postpartum depression if you:

  • have a family history of depression
  • have a personal history of depression or other mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder

Symptoms of postpartum depression

The symptoms of postnatal depression most often begin during the first two months after the birth, but may start any time in the first year postpartum. You may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • persistent low moods
  • persistent feeling of sadness
  • loss of interest in the world around you
  • inability to feel joy
  • fatigue
  • trouble sleeping
  • inability to concentrate and/or make decisions
  • low self-confidence
  • loss of interest in food, or comfort eating
  • feelings of guilt
  • suicidal thoughts
  • self-harming
  • frightening thoughts

Around half of all sufferers experience frightening thoughts of harming their baby. These thoughts are part of the condition, and do not mean you are a bad mother. It is rare for either mother or baby to be harmed as a result of postpartum depression.

Diagnosis and treatment

If you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. Your healthcare provider will be able to diagnose the condition by asking a series of questions. Some women are scared to seek help because they worry that their babies will be taken from them. In reality it is very, very rare for babies to be taken from their mothers because of postpartum depression. This would only ever occur in very exceptional circumstances.

Your healthcare provider is best placed to advise you on treatment options, and this will depend on the severity of your condition. Treatment options include:

  • counseling and therapy
  • medication

There are things you can do to help alleviate the symptoms of postpartum depression, for example:

  • talk about how you feel – whether it’s to your partner, friends, family or a group for sufferers, talking about your feelings may help
  • exercise – this is a proven way to treat depression, so try to exercise a few times a week
  • get out of the house – if you’re feeling low and want to hide indoors, try to force yourself to leave the house. Even just taking a quick stroll around the block can help
  • eat healthily – skipping meals and eating poorly can make you feel worse, so try to eat a healthy balanced diet
  • rest – get as much sleep as you can. If you can’t sleep, rest instead
  • accept help from friends and family

It can be hard to admit you are suffering from postpartum depression, and telling other people about it can be even harder. Try to remember, telling your healthcare provider is the first step on the road to recovery.

Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

Postnatal Depression: More Than the Baby Blues

From grandparents to friends, everyone around you is excited about the birth of your baby. You love your baby and expected to feel nothing but joy. So you may be surprised to find yourself feeling a bit down or maybe even worse.

According to research, up to 80 percent of women experience the baby blues a few days after they give birth. Symptoms may include moodiness, trouble sleeping and feeling weepy. Usually, symptoms of the baby blues go away in a few weeks.

But some women experience more severe symptoms known as postnatal depression. At first it can be difficult to distinguish between the baby blues and postnatal depression.  But symptoms of postnatal depression tend to be more severe, and they often last longer than a few weeks. It is estimated that about ten percent of women experience postnatal depression.

Symptoms of postnatal depression may include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Excessive crying
  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Panic attacks
  • Intense irritability or mood swings
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

Am I at Risk for Postnatal Depression?

Postnatal depression may develop due to a combination of factors. For instance, hormonal changes occur after you have your baby. When levels of estrogen or progesterone drop, so can your mood. Also, caring for a newborn is a lot of work. No matter how much you love your baby, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Add sleep deprivation into the mix and you can see how emotional issues can develop.

Although any woman can develop postnatal depression after giving birth, there are a few things that increase your chances. Risk factors include having a difficult pregnancy, relationship problems and a weak support system.

Help for Postnatal Depression

Some women hesitate to seek help if they feel depressed after giving birth. They may feel ashamed or guilty. But postnatal depression is not anything to feel embarrassed about, and it does not mean you are a bad mommy. If you think you may have postnatal depression, talk to your doctor.

There are lifestyle changes, which can help. For example, although it can be a challenge, make time for yourself. Eat well and slowly ease back into exercise with your doctor’s OK. Also, make sleep a priority. Have someone watch your little one so you can rest, and nap when your baby naps. Having support can also make a big difference. Consider sharing your feelings with your partner. Join a support group for new moms.

Professional treatment is also recommended in some cases. Talk therapy is sometimes used to treat postnatal depression. Antidepressants may also be an option in some instances. But be sure to only take antidepressants with your doctors consent.

Post-natal depression left untreated can interfere with your ability to bond with your baby. Keep in mind, the best way to take good care of your little one, is also to take care of yourself.

Written by Mary Ann DePietro @writerlady34

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.