Many people may be surprised to learn just how common postpartum depression is. This condition makes it difficult for women to adjust to motherhood while attempting to care for their newborn and themselves. Your OB/GYN can help you determine a treatment plan to find relief from your postpartum depression symptoms. Before your appointment, here are some answers to the most common questions about postpartum depression.
How Common is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is very common, with about 1 in 7 women experiencing the condition after giving birth. This includes women who have no prior history of depression or other mental health concerns. If you are experiencing postpartum depression, you are far from alone. Many of your friends or relatives may have even experienced the same symptoms, and support is available.
What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?
There are a wide range of postpartum depression symptoms that you may experience. Not all patients will experience the same symptoms, and you do not have to experience all symptoms to be diagnosed with postpartum depression. Some of the most common postpartum depression symptoms include:
- Intense sadness
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Severe anxiety, worrying, or obsessiveness
- Withdrawing from social interaction or self-isolating
- Difficulty bonding with the baby
- Thoughts of self-harm
- Thoughts of harming the baby
- Overeating or loss of appetite
- Insomnia or oversleeping
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
Psychologists have not identified a single cause of postpartum depression, though the condition is believed to be a result of physiological and emotional factors. After giving birth, estrogen and progesterone drop rapidly. These important hormones have a significant effect on a woman’s moods and feelings of wellbeing. In addition to these rapid hormonal fluctuations, having a new baby creates a significant change in your routine and can be a major source of stress. In particular, sleep deprivation due to caring for a newborn can contribute to postpartum depression symptoms.
If you are experiencing postpartum depression, it is important to remember that the condition can be difficult to prevent or predict. It is a result of unavoidable physical changes in the body and in your lifestyle; no woman is at fault for their postpartum depression.
Do I Have Postpartum Depression or “Baby Blues”?
Most new mothers will experience feelings like fatigue or worry shortly after giving birth. Caring for a newborn is stressful and adjusting to parenthood is difficult. When these feelings are temporary and manageable, they are often referred to as the “baby blues.”
In contrast, postpartum depression can be quite severe and interrupt your ability to complete necessary day-to-day tasks, including caring for yourself or your baby. The symptoms also typically last longer than the average “baby blues” experience. If you notice symptoms of postpartum depression that last longer than a few weeks and are relatively severe, you should seek treatment from your OB/GYN or a mental healthcare professional.
What Can I Do to Improve Postpartum Depression?
If you are having dangerous symptoms such as thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, you should seek care as soon as possible. This can include emergency or crisis services such as going to the emergency room or calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Your OB/GYN can recommend treatment options to help alleviate your postpartum depression symptoms. Medication or counseling are two common treatments that can help. In addition, you can help support your recovery and ease symptoms by taking care of your physical health and seeking support from loved ones. Getting plenty of rest is important, so asking for help from a family member or friend to take care of your baby while you nap can relieve some stress. Exercise can also help boost your mood, which can be as simple as talking a short walk. Being open about your feelings and talking to a trusted family member or friend can help, as can seeking a support group. Finally, setting realistic goals and practicing self-compassion can help you as you recover from postpartum depression.
Schedule an Appointment
If you are experiencing postpartum depression symptoms, schedule an appointment at Carnegie Women’s Health by calling (315) 628-7063 or contacting us online. If you are in a crisis situation, go to your local emergency room or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.