Coping with Postpartum Depression


The emotional changes a woman can feel after giving birth are usually part of a condition commonly called the “baby blues,” but sometimes those feelings can be something more serious — postpartum depression (PPD).

The chart below from Horizon Behavioral Health summarizes key differences between the “baby blues,” frequent yet brief feelings that ease on their own, and postpartum depression, a serious medical condition. If you’re a mother-to-be concerned about your risk for postpartum depression, speak with your Ob/Gyn as part of your prenatal care. After you give birth, you should be screened for postpartum depression, but if at any time you or your loved ones feel your symptoms may be cause for concern, you should immediately notify your Ob/Gyn.

 

“Baby Blues”

Postpartum Depression

Causes

Hormonal changes; exhaustion

Hormonal and physical changes; exhaustion; feeling overwhelmed about caring for a new child

Frequency

Affects approximately 80 percent of those who have recently given birth

Affects approximately 10 to 15 percent of those who have recently given birth

Duration

Brief period after the birth of the baby; resolves after about two weeks without intervention

Can last up to a year after baby’s birth

Symptoms

  • Feeling nervous or worried about being a good mother
  • Mild sadness
  • Moodiness
  • Tired
  • Weepiness
  • Feeling as if you should never have become a mother
  • Feeling angrier or more irritable with others
  • Feeling intense sadness, nervousness or panic
  • Feeling as if you are “out of control” or “going crazy”
  • Having difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Having upsetting thoughts that won’t leave your mind
  • Lack of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Trouble focusing, remembering or making decisions
  • Worrying that you might hurt your baby or yourself

Risk factors for postpartum depression

Postpartum depression can affect any woman who is pregnant, has given birth, suffered a miscarriage or has recently weaned a child from breastfeeding.

Other risk factors include:

  • Having a prior history of depression
  • Overwhelming demands
  • Lack of support to help with the new baby
  • Lack of sleep or becoming exhausted
  • Not taking medications for depression before, during and/or after pregnancy