Postpartum Depression

Worried Mother Holding Baby In Nursery

You’ve just had a baby. Life should be more beautiful than ever, but for some reason, it isn’t. If you have postpartum depression, you’re not alone. The National Institute of Mental Health reports as many as 13 percent of new mothers have depression-related symptoms. Since mental health issues are typically underreported or unnoticed, that number is probably higher. Inform yourself about depression and take charge of your health.

Postpartum depression symptoms. It is normal to experience mood swings and mild feelings of sadness, anxiety or irritability. The baby blues usually dissipate in short order, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. But if the baby blues do not go away in a few days or weeks, or the feelings are extreme, postpartum depression may be the culprit. Common symptoms of postpartum depression are:

  • Feelings of failure or inadequacy
  • Concern and worry about the baby
  • A lack of interest in the baby
  • Fear of harming the baby
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Lack of pleasure in once enjoyable activities

Causes of postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is not wholly understood. The emotional changes that occur after the baby is born may be related to a variety of issues, according to the Mayo Clinic. There might even be a genetic component that leads to a susceptibility to depression in general. Other factors in postpartum depression include:

  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Changes in blood volume, blood pressure, metabolism and immune system
  • Lack of sleep, exhaustion
  • Emotional components like loss of identity, feeling unattractive or out of control
  • Lifestyle issues such as other children, trouble nursing, demanding infant, money issues or an unsupportive family

Treatment for postpartum depression. Even if the exact reason for your postpartum depression is not known, you can be treated. A few approaches have proved successful in banishing the baby blues and postpartum depression. Speak with your doctor about what options are right for you. Some treatments are:

  • Doctor examination to rule out a physical reason for the depression
  • Medication such as an antidepressant or antipsychotic
  • Hormone therapy
  • Therapy either alone or in a group environment
  • Joining peer groups and support groups with other similar families

This article was originally published as Postpartum Depression on

Found in: Pregnancy
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