Postpartum Depression

By August 18, 2023Health Tips

The FDA recently approved the first pill specifically for postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a type of depression that happens after having a baby. It affects an estimated one in seven mothers in the US. It is a serious and potentially life-threatening complication of childbirth. Today we’ll talk more about this condition, including how to recognize it in yourself or your loved ones.

What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum DepressionPostpartum refers to the time after childbirth. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of depression that happens after someone gives birth. Sometimes it can even start during pregnancy and continue after childbirth. Symptoms range from mild to severe and may appear within a week of delivery or may develop gradually, even up to a year after delivery. If it is not treated, PPD can last many months or longer.

What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?
It can be normal to feel somewhat overwhelmed when a new baby comes home, even for experienced mothers. If you have any of the following symptoms that last for more than 2 weeks, contact your health care provider:
  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Frequent crying
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, or restlessness
  • Irritability or intense anger
  • Fatigue, sometimes overwhelming
  • Feelings of guilt or fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
How is PPD different from the baby blues?
Up to 75% of new moms experience baby blues after delivery. This can start within the first 2-3 days after delivery and may last from a few days up to 2 weeks. Baby blues resolves without treatment. Symptoms are much milder than PPD, and can include feelings of sadness, anxiety, crying, feeling overwhelmed, or trouble sleeping. PPD may be mistaken for baby blues at first, but the symptoms of PPD are more intense and last longer. Baby blues should not interfere with your ability to care for your baby or handle your normal daily tasks.
Why is PPD sometimes not recognized or treated?
Sometimes it is not recognized because no one asks a new mom how she is feeling. Some women may feel embarrassed or guilty about their symptoms.
In addition, many mothers are hesitant to reveal their symptoms to family members or health care providers. They often fear they will be judged on their parenting or think that people will think they are a bad mother.
Anyone can develop postpartum depression. It absolutely does not mean you are a bad mom!
Are some women at higher risk of developing PPD?
Although anyone can develop PPD, there are some factors that may increase your risk. They include:
  • Personal or family history of depression or bipolar disorder
  • Having depression during pregnancy
  • Having little or no support from family and friends
  • Problems with a previous pregnancy or birth
  • Current relationship or money problems
  • Age younger than 20
  • Having alcoholism or other substance abuse issues
  • Having a baby with special needs
  • Having difficulty breastfeeding
  • Pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted
What is postpartum psychosis?
Postpartum psychosis is a rare condition that usually develops within the first week after delivery. The symptoms are quite severe. Symptoms include:
  • Feeling confused or lost
  • Having obsessive thoughts about your baby
  • Hallucinating or having delusions
  • Sleep problems
  • Having too much energy
  • Feeling paranoid
  • Making attempts to harm yourself or your baby
Next week we will continue our discussion about PPD, including talking about the complications of PPD and how it is diagnosed and treated.
If you have any questions about postpartum depression, please log into your account and send us your question. We are here to help.

Dr. Anita Bennett MD – Health Tip Content Editor

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