Giving birth can trigger a wide range of joyful emotions. However, it can also trigger deeper negative emotions that you may not have expected.
Faced with hormonal changes and lack of proper sleep, Moms can experience a "baby blues" period right after birth that lasts several weeks and may include periods of crying and generally feeling overwhelmed. This is quote normal as your body has been through a lot. But if symptoms become more severe and last for several months or longer, it can be a more serious condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, postpartum depression affects one in nine women.
Read on for everything you need to know about postpartum depression including symptoms, treatments, risk factors, and helpful resources.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is defined as depression suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from the combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, and fatigue.
Signs of postpartum depression
Symptoms can include insomnia, irritability, intense fatigue, loss of appetite, weight gain or weight loss, and difficulty bonding with the baby. You may constantly go through a range of emotions including anger, anxiety, guilt, and hopelessness and experience panic attacks. You also may find yourself feeling worthless and that you are not good a mother and have thoughts of harming yourself and your baby. These thoughts can be so persistent you are unable to shake them.
You are more at risk if you are having financial troubles, have a history of depression or bipolar disorder, are having issues with your spouse, have difficulty breastfeeding, had a complicated birth, or recently experienced a highly stressful event. Try to keep all of these in mind.
How is postpartum depression treated?
Untreated, this condition can last months or even longer, so it's best to seek treatment as soon as possible. Treatment can include counseling, antidepressants, and therapy. Talk to your doctor about options. Therapies can include support groups where you may find solace in others who are going through this experience with you. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you to retrain your brain to get back on track. Talking one-on-one to a counselor can also help you sort through the wide range of feelings you are experiencing. Think about what works best for you.
Postpartum depression resources
- Postpartum Progress - This nonprofit organization's mission is to "raise awareness, fight stigma and provide peer support and programming to women with maternal mental illness." Their website is chock full of resources and even has a list of treatment options broken down by state.
- Postpartum Support Internationl -This organization aims to increase awareness among public and professional communities about the emotional changes that women experience during pregnancy and postpartum. Their website is full of helpful resources and links.
- Chrissy Teigen Opens Up for the First Time About Her Postpartum Depression - This magazine article offers a postpartum depression perspective from a glamorous celebrity. A reminder that it can affect anyone.