Postpartum depression is a common but serious condition. Many parents may want to deny it because it’s not what they expected after the birth of a child. However, it does occur—in mothers and fathers alike. Postpartum depression might occur because the childbirth experience didn’t live up to expectations, or simply due to the fact that the parent is not feeling a connection to the baby. For most parents, these “baby blues” go away after three to five days. For others, the feelings of hopelessness and sadness may not go away quite as quickly. If you’re experiencing symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, or lethargy for more than two weeks, you may be experiencing postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is a severe mood disorder. Many parents feel ashamed to admit they might have postpartum depression because they believe everything around a new baby should be blissful. However, the sooner you recognize the symptoms, the sooner you can seek treatment from a doctor and start enjoying life with your new baby.
Symptoms most often start within the first month of childbirth. For the birthing parent, they can begin during pregnancy and continue into the first full year after giving birth. Symptoms may include extreme sadness, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and crying spells. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, or fear that you may harm yourself or your baby, reach out for help immediately. Call a close loved one, 911, or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK.
It has been difficult for doctors to pinpoint the cause of postpartum depression, but there are several factors that contribute to it. Emotional factors like stress and anxiety can make a parent feel overwhelmed and lead to postpartum depression. Sudden fluctuations in hormone levels or sleep deprivation can be contributing factors, too. A history of depression in your family may also make you more likely to suffer from postpartum depression.
There are different treatments for postpartum depression a doctor can suggest. Therapy with a psychiatrist or social worker may be recommended to learn coping mechanisms for the different feelings depression can cause. A doctor may prescribe an antidepressant to relieve symptoms. Treatment will also depend on whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding, too.
Remember, there is no shame in asking for help. It’s important to get treated to help yourself and your baby. Treatment will help address symptoms and can significantly improve the relationship with your baby and partner. If you have any questions or are concerned that you’re experiencing postpartum depression, please call our office at 307-634-5216.