Postpartum Depression (PPD): It’s time to talk about it!

In recent years there has been more awareness about postpartum depression. Thanks to brave women in the public bringing attention to the issue like Drew Barrymore and Hayden Panettiere, as well as popular bloggers discussing their own experiences with postpartum depression, there has been a more excepting platform for women to talk about it. The stigma of being a “bad mom” has been lightened with the new understanding of what the body goes through during and after pregnancy, and that hormones play a huge role in its effect on women. This is no small feat, but in spite of that, there are still many women who would sooner write off their feelings as baby blues, when perhaps there is a larger issue at hand.

For all mothers there is an adjustment period and it’s recommended that women make an effort to care for themselves as well as their new baby. Common suggestions to new moms are to make time for yourself each day doing something you enjoy (without the baby), hiring help with childcare or housework, spending time and nurturing your relationship with your significant other or joining a support group for new mothers. While these are great for everyone they are often not enough to support a woman who is suffering from postpartum depression.

There is a level of stress and anxiety that is “normal” for a woman to feel after giving birth. Combined that with sleepless nights and hormonal fluctuations feeling “low” is to be expected. So what is postpartum and how can you spot the difference?

Firstly look at the time period. If these feelings of general stress and anxiety don’t subside after a few weeks, or if they get worse, you may be suffering from postpartum depression. Additional symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Changes in appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Sadness
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Insomnia, or conversely, sleeping more than usual
  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • Lack of concern for yourself
  • Lack of interest in your baby and/or inability to care for her
  • Negative feelings towards your baby
  • Worrying about hurting your baby
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you find that you are suffering from postpartum depression, it is critical to get help. Depression can not only rob you of happiness, but it can adversely affect your child as well. Some treatments that can be very effective in getting through this difficult time include:

Working through your feelings about new motherhood, and coming up with a plan to successfully manage your feelings and your new responsibilities can be enormously beneficial.

Postpartum depression responds to the same types of medications as regular depression.

NOTE: Rarely, a new mother can experience postpartum psychosis. This is characterized by a complete loss of touch with reality, typically experienced within a few weeks of giving birth. Symptoms include:

  • Hallucination
  • Irrational or paranoid beliefs
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Thoughts of hurting or killing your baby

Postpartum psychosis is considered a medical emergency, and needs to be treated in an emergency room immediately! For more information about postpartum depression, visit Helpguide.org


Originally published at www.miamiobgyns.com on October 31, 2016.

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