Postpartum Depression: What you need to know
By Heather Burdo
Right after giving birth, hormones skyrocket. For many women, postpartum depression is a result of the rapid hormonal changes. Not to mention, the lack of sleep also takes a toll on the body.
Postpartum depression can happen anytime during the first year after giving birth, but it’s usually more common to notice this type of depression creeping in during the first few weeks. Even if you’ve given birth before and never experience depression, you can still be at risk - every pregnancy is different.
Postpartum Depression is Common
It may seem like postpartum depression isn’t common because a lot of people keep it in - they don’t really talk about it. According to WebMD, a study consisting of 10,000 women revealed that 1 in 7 women will experience postpartum depression. The more we make postpartum depression seem more common, the less women will have to feel alone and embarrassed to talk about their struggle.
Baby Blues Vs. Postpartum Depression
Experiencing baby blues is extremely common. There’s a difference between baby blues and postpartum depression. With postpartum depression, a woman may find she can’t eat, sleep, and loses all interest in things she used to be interested in. A debilitating part of postpartum depression is when women become anxious with intrusive thoughts that they can’t shake. It’s critical for a new mom to be aware of the difference. Maternal suicide is one of the most common causes of maternal mortality during the postpartum period.
Who is at Risk?
Women who have a personal or family history with depression or anxiety are at an increased risk to develop postpartum depression. Women who experience severe mood changes during menstrual cycle changes are also at risk. The major factor is having postpartum depression with a previous pregnancy, especially if it wasn’t treated. Diana Lynn Barnes, Psy.D., L.M.F.T., founder of the Center for Postpartum Health states that a woman has a 75% risk of developing postpartum depression a second time, especially if the first time went untreated.
When to Seek Help
If you or anyone you know is experiencing postpartum depression, it’s important to get help. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and the sooner help is accessed, the sooner postpartum depression can stop bombarding your life. If feelings of sadness, guilt, anxiety, or anything else out of the norm last more than two to three weeks, you need to seek professional help.
The first place to start getting help is your obstetrician or primary care provider. Some tests will likely be run such as a thyroid test and other potential physical problems will be tested. If all the testing comes back with a negative result, you will be referred to a therapist who specializes in this type of depression. Some women need an antidepressant to help manage their depression for a while.
Depression Can Affect Your Child
If anything, it’s important to seek help for your child. According to Psych Central, there is a lot of research that reveals children of depressed parents are at an increased risk for depression themselves. Unfortunately, these children are at a higher risk for antisocial activities and substance abuse as well.
Several studies show that depressed mothers have a hard time bonding with their infant, which makes them less sensitive to the baby’s needs. The baby can end up more isolated than other children or appear less happy.
How about we stand up for our fellow moms, embrace motherhood challenges, and be brave to share our postpartum depression experience down in the comments. Who’s in? Let’s make each other know we are not alone in this battle. Also, add some tips on how you overcame your postpartum depression.
Heather is a freelance writer from New York. When she isn't writing about parenting, she is tending to her own two handsome boys. She enjoys all things related to motivation and mindset. All work aside, she enjoys activities outdoors and being with her family.
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