Postpartum Depression – Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment
It has many names. And it has many faces. It can cause abject misery in what should be one of the happiest times of your life. It affects many women in many different ways, can hit at any time, and can last longer than you’d think. Postpartum depression is sometimes called postnatal depression, the baby blues, or postpartum anxiety. If it goes untreated, it can do lasting harm to you, your baby, and your relationships. Read on to learn about what causes the baby blues, the signs you might have it, and the help and treatment available to you if you do have it.
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
There are a number of different causes of postpartum depression and doctors often find it hard to put their finger on the cause in any given case. Hormonal changes are often the culprit. Likewise, it can just be the enormity of becoming a parent – your whole life really has been turned upside down overnight. Sometimes it can be that you’re not getting enough nutrients and the demands of breastfeeding are taking it out of you. For women with a history of anxiety and depression, the trauma of birth and the change in lifestyle can trigger a new bout. The possible causes are endless but, when it comes down to it, the most important thing is to be able to identify the symptoms and seek help if you need it.
What are the Signs of Postpartum Depression?
The symptoms of postpartum depression are different for everyone. If you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, you may be suffering for postpartum depression:
- Feeling detached from your baby
- Being Tearful for no apparent reason
- Feeling guilty or inadequate as a mother
- Avoiding friends, family, and social situations
- Loss of appetite and insomnia
- Compulsive behaviors or panic attacks
- Unexplained feelings of anger or rage
Women who seek help when these symptoms first present are much less likely to suffer from a prolonged or harmful period of depression. Talk to your partner or someone you trust about your symptoms or make an appointment to see a counselor or doctor.
Sometimes, you may be too deep in the emotional state to recognize Postpartum Depression for what it is. Your feelings of numbness, detachment or inadequacy may just feel like your reality. So, if your partner or someone close to you suggests that you may have symptoms of postpartum depression, you should take them seriously and seek help.
How Long can Postpartum Depression Last?
Again, this is different for everyone. The baby blues may last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. But serious postpartum depression could plague you for two or three years if left untreated. Imagine missing the first two years of your baby’s life in a haze of depression, anxiety, or hopelessness.
What is the Treatment for Postpartum Depression?
There are many different treatments for postnatal depression, some medicated and some natural. These include:
- Natural therapies
- Anti-depressant medications
- Residential care
- Yoga, relaxation, and medication
It’s best to talk to the experts about the best treatment for you, rather than trying to self-diagnose or self-treat.
What can I do to Prevent Postpartum Depression?
There is no sure way to ward off the baby blues and even women with no history of depression suffer from it. But there are definite steps you can take to reduce your chances of suffering from postpartum depression. These include:
- Communicate openly with friends, family, and your partner: Talking with loved ones about what’s going on day to day helps you to keep track of your feelings and avoid bottling them up.
- Make sure your diet includes all the best nutrients: If you’re breastfeeding, you really are eating for two! Make sure you’re eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables packed with antioxidants and vitamins – little snacks often are best when you’re nursing.
- Get out for some fresh air every day: Exercise is amazing for keeping things in perspective and keeping depression or anxiety at bay. Bundle that beautiful ne baby into the pram and head out for a walk.
- Seek and accept help: When a friend comes round to visit, don’t be offended if she starts washing your dishes! And don’t be afraid to ask you Mom to come and hold the baby while you catch a half hour nap. Your friends and loved ones should be only too happy to help and you’ve got a lot going on.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff: Pile of unwashed laundry? Don’t worry about it! Or better still, get your husband to sought it when he gets home! It can be really common to let all the little tasks get on top of us as new mothers. Try not to let that happen – go with the flow and go easy on yourself.
How Common is Postpartum Depression?
Up to 80% of women experience some form of the baby blues. It may only be a few days or it can go on for months. The symptoms and severity are different for everyone. Studies show that, for around 17% (one in six) women, the postpartum depression will be serious and/or prolonged.
There is No Shame in Seeking Help:
We can’t stress the importance of seeking help if you think you may be suffering from Postpartum Depression. Too many women feel that seeking help is admitting that they are somehow lacking as a mother or giving in to weakness. The reverse is true. To seek help when you need it is a sign of strength. The solution may be simple or it may take a little more time. But you, your baby, and your family will be far better off for having sought the support you need.
Learn More about Postpartum Symptoms, Experiences, and More:
One way to ward off the baby blues is to make sure you’re getting all the help you need with your new baby. A postpartum doula is trained to give you physical and emotional support and advice in the period after you give birth. Find out more about what a doula does and how to find the right one for you here.
If you’re nervous about nursing, or you need advice on a specific topic, check out our directory of articles on all things breastfeeding and breast milk here.
The saying, “knowledge is power” actually has a lot of truth to it. Understanding what you’re going through and the changes that both you and your baby are experiencing could help you to shake your depression. Click here for the best selling new parents’ books in the USA right now.