Postpartum depression can affect any woman after having a baby. 1 out of every 7 women with newborns experiences postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can happen regardless of a women’s age, race, ethnicity, economic status. Having a baby changes your body and your life in ways that are hard to predict. Feeling sad, moody, or tired is common after childbirth. This is often referred to as ‘baby blues’. These baby blues affect up to 75% of new mothers during the first week or so after delivery. Postpartum depression is different. The symptoms of postpartum are not mild like the baby blues and they last much longer. Postpartum depression can interfere with your ability to take care of yourself and your family. While postpartum depression commonly begins about four to six weeks postpartum, it can happen anytime within the first year after your baby is born.
Some women are at greater risk for postpartum depression. These factors include:
- Depression during pregnancy or after a previous pregnancy.
- History of depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.
- A stressful life event during pregnancy or shortly after birth.
- Medical complications during the pregnancy, birth, or after the delivery.
- A lack of strong emotional support can also be a factor.
The symptoms of postpartum depression are not the same for every woman. The most common symptoms include:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed
- Crying more often than usual
- Worrying or feeling overly anxious
- Feeling moody, irritable, or restless
- Oversleeping or not being able to sleep
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Frequent feelings of anger or rage
- Losing interest in activities that usually would find enjoyable
- Eating too much or not eating enough
- Avoiding family and friends
- Having trouble bonding with your baby, or persistently doubting your ability to take care of your baby
- Thinking about harming oneself or the baby
If at any time you experience symptoms that you feel put you or your baby in danger you should call 211 or 911 and seek emergency assistance. Many times the pressure of wanting to be the perfect mom can keep us from sharing feelings of sadness and anxiety. Postpartum depression is not a negative reflection of parenting skills and is biological in most cases. It also happens to be one of the most common complications after childbirth. The good news is there’s help for postpartum depression. Some treatment options include anti-anxiety or antidepressant medicines, psychotherapy, and support group participation. There are antidepressant medicines that can be taken even while breastfeeding. At County Ob/Gyn we encourage you to have an open and honest conversation with one of our midwives or doctors while you are pregnant and after delivery, if you have any concerns. Together we can break the silence.
On this World Mental Health Day, we hope to raise awareness of mental health issues as well as show our support. Visit https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day for more information on how to get involved.