Postpartum depression is a type of depression that women experience after giving birth. It can happen anytime during your new baby’s first year, but it’s most common to feel effects during the first three weeks after birth. Typically, postpartum depression will cause feelings of hopelessness and sadness. These draining emotions can prevent women from finding the motivation or desire to care for their new baby, which in turn causes severe guilt. Postpartum depression does not only affect first-time mothers, it can happen even if you did not have it with your other babies.
Postpartum depression is common
It’s important to know that if you suffer from postpartum depression, or someone you love is struggling, there is no reason to feel guilty or ashamed. You are not alone– a study of 10,000 mothers with newborns found that one in seven women get postpartum depression. This problem affects women of all races, nationalities and income levels.
Symptoms and severity vary
Symptoms include mood swings, difficulty eating or sleeping, difficulty bonding with your baby, fatigue, crying, too much sleep, focus issues, loss of hope and loss of interest in daily activities. Some women have only a few symptoms while others feel many of them. Many women can lead fairly normal lives with postpartum depression, but those with more severe cases cannot care for themselves or their babies.
There isn’t one singular cause
Hormones, fatigue, stress, a history of depression, age and a lack of support can all lead to postpartum depression. This is a serious medical condition with genetic, neurological and hormonal components and deserves to be treated as such. It’s common for women to feel guilty about postpartum depression, but the condition is beyond the mother’s conscious control.
It’s completely treatable
If you think you have postpartum depression, call a doctor immediately for a professional diagnosis. They can prescribe you medication, refer to you a counselor, or recommend a combination of both treatment options. Antidepressants can often help with postpartum depression, as they balance chemicals linked to depression. Most of these drugs are safe to take during breastfeeding but make sure your doctor knows you are nursing before starting a medication. Speaking with one of our certified therapists or counselors at Family Counseling Center can be of great help. You can learn ways to recognize when you’re having negative thoughts and find out how to deal with them in a healthy way. You can also discuss stress, relationships and concerns and learn how to work through problems.