Congratulations, you have done it! You’ve given birth to your baby.

Now what?

You’ve prepared the nursery, you’ve picked a name, maybe you’ve even learned how to cloth diaper. You have just accomplished one of the greatest feats possible and you’ve met your baby. But how do you feel?

We’ve all heard of the sadness and worry that you can feel after birth – the “baby blues”. According to Healthline, as many as 80% of new mothers feel sad, worried, and fatigued in the weeks following birth. Eighty percent – that’s huge! And normal.

Although feeling sad, worried and fatigued may be normal, prolonged feelings of depression should be addressed. Continue to read for more information about the symptoms, causes and treatment for Post-Partum Depression.

Symptoms

Postpartum Depression (PPD) can cause many severe symptoms that are much more than baby blues. Seen in 15% of all births, PPD symptoms vary from mom to mom but often include:

  • Severe mood swings with no clear reason why they are happening
  • Exhaustion but an inability to sleep
  • A sense of hopelessness, irritability and/or loss of control
  • Difficulty concentrating and a sense of being overwhelmed
  • The desire to escape or harm oneself or child

If you feel like you may have a symptom that is not included on this list don’t discount your feelings – PPD is felt differently by each woman and as our pregnancies differ, our experiences with PPD will too.

Causes

While the cause of PPD isn’t clear, there are many physical and emotional factors that may contribute to the onset of PPD.

Physical Factors may be caused by:

  • An abrupt change in hormones
  • An underlying medical issue
  • Low thyroid hormone levels
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Inadequate diet

    • Emotional factors, on the other hand, could include:

      • Having a history of mood disorders or social isolation
      • Recent stressful events like a divorce or family death
      • Financial burdens
      • Lack of support

      All of these factors can put you at a higher risk for PPD.

      Treatment

      If you feel that you have symptoms of PPD, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. You can reach out to your OB/GYN or even the hospital where you gave birth – wherever you feel safe and supported. Many women find treatment through medication or therapy helpful, which can often be used effectively together. Antidepressants alter the chemicals in your brain that regulate your mood, but they can have side effects and take time to make noticeable changes. Therapy can help you make sense of the destructive thoughts you may have and offer strategies for working through them by working with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional. Within six months many women begin feeling better.

      Prevention

      While absolute prevention isn’t possible, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. Be proactive during your pregnancy by letting your doctor or midwife know if you’ve had a previous experience with PPD, have symptoms of depression, or have suffered from depression or a mood disorder before. You may also be able to set up a support system before your baby is born with friends and family members. You can create an action plan that includes contact information for your support system and a way to keep the communication lines open with those that can help you. Doing your best to stay involved with activities and people you love during and after pregnancy can also help. Keeping connected with your support system and doing activities you enjoy may help you feel energized and excited.

      A baby changes everything so if you notice these symptoms remember to reach out for help to loved ones and your doctor.



      Information provided in blogs should not be used as a substitute for medical care or consultation.


      Megan Prestridge

      About the Author

      I am 23 years old and happily married to a man I have been with for eight years. I am the sixth generation in my family to live on my family's land located in West Asheville. I went to Mars Hill University for my undergraduate degree in English and creative writing and fully plan to obtain my doctorate someday.

      Learn more about Megan!