The time after you have a baby is supposed to be a time of joy and happiness. Congratulations! Your long-awaited bundle of joy has arrived, and you should be ecstatic. However, the postpartum period can have a dark side for many moms. Postpartum can be overwhelming — an overwhelming time of stress and fear. Some mothers also develop a serious mental health condition called postpartum depression.
Postpartum Depression: What Is It?
Postpartum depression is defined by feelings of severe depression in mothers following the birth of a child and thought to be due to psychological adjustments to motherhood, hormonal changes, and fatigue — it’s also more common than most would suspect. Postpartum depression affects 1 in 7 new mothers, and it can even occur during pregnancy in some women. Postpartum depression usually affects moms in the first few weeks after giving birth, but others experience it several months down the road, even up to a year after giving birth.
Postpartum depression is more than just a “sad feeling”; it’s accompanied by anxiety, mood swings, and the inability to carry out daily activities. And while it’s true that most postpartum moms are generally prone to things like mood swings and stress, postpartum depression isn’t the same as “the baby blues,” a phenomenon experienced by about 70 percent of new mothers, usually attributed to shifting hormones and sleep deprivation.
Postpartum Depression: What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
If you experience the following symptoms for more than two weeks and they are interfering with your day-to-day life, you may be experiencing postpartum depression:
Postpartum depression symptoms can be unexpected for new mothers because they include not only the classic signs of depression but also those of anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and even anger.
Suicidal thoughts can arise in moms for a variety of reasons. If you are having any thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, please dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255). (1-800-273-8255).
In addition, if you are experiencing signs of psychosis or mania (hearing voices and experiencing hallucinations), you may be suffering from postpartum psychosis, a rare but very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
A diagnosis of postpartum depression may be made when mood swings, anxiety and depression are severe, and last more than the first two weeks postpartum. Postpartum depression can be dangerous for both the baby and the new mother.
What are the Causes of Postpartum Depression?
A mother’s susceptibility to postpartum depression can be increased by a number of factors, including:
- A difficult or traumatic birth
- A baby who is medically fragile or has spent time in the NICU
- A previous experience of postpartum depression
- A family history of mental illness
- A baby who has colic or is difficult to manage or comfort
- Anxieties linked to money
- Lack of social support
Regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or the strength of a mother’s support network, postpartum depression can affect any mother.
Getting Help For Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression can be frightening and upsetting for both the mom who has it and the people who care about her. But the good news is that once it’s diagnosed, it’s generally quite treatable. Postpartum depression is typically treated with talk therapy — or a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Moms may also find it helpful to join a postpartum depression support group.
Making sure to have a robust support network to help with things like baby care and chores can make a difference for moms who are struggling with postpartum depression. As exhausting as it may seem, taking care of a newborn isn’t meant to be done by a single mother. It takes a village to raise a child, just as it can take a village to support a mom who is trying to raise that child.
Online therapy for postpartum depression
Sometimes the hardest part of getting help for postpartum depression is reaching out for the first time. Many moms feel completely alone in their emotions, stigmatised, and are ashamed of how they are feeling; this may cause them to delay reaching out for help. If you
Those moms who have never sought professional help from a therapist or who don’t know how to make the time for it may benefit from options such as online or virtual therapy. Additionally, many new mother support groups also have online components that many find beneficial. Take the first step by filling out a postpartum depression assessment to focus your symptoms and start getting help.
Most importantly, moms should know they are not alone. Such a high percentage of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression (PPD). You didn’t do anything wrong if you find yourself struggling with this condition or any of these symptoms. The most important thing to remember is that you have the power to improve your health and that of your unborn child.
When to see a doctor
To avoid self-harm or suicide, dial 911 or your local emergency number as soon as you suspect suicidal thoughts.
When to get emergency help
If you feel depressed, make an appointment to see your doctor or mental health professional as soon as you can. If you’re reluctant to seek treatment, talk to a friend or loved one, any health care professional, a faith leader, or someone else you trust.
If you’re having suicidal thoughts, take a look at these other options:
- Call your doctor or mental health professional.
- Call a suicide hotline number — in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). (1-800-273-8255). Use that same number and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
- Seek out the support of a close friend or family member.
- Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.
If you have a loved one who is in danger of suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person. As soon as possible, dial 911 or the appropriate local emergency number. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.