Feelings of sadness and anxiety can be postpartum depression symptoms that could interfere with a woman’s ability to care for herself or her family. This is a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth and exhaustion may make it difficult to complete their daily care activities for themselves or others. Postpartum results from a combination of physical and emotional factors, and not because of what a mother does or does not do.
Levels of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) following childbirth, quickly drops in a woman’s body, plus they are unable to get the rest they need to recover from childbirth.
Other more common symptoms of postpartum depression includes:
(1) Feeling sad, hopeless, empty or overwhelmed
(2) Crying more often than usual or for no reason
(3) Worrying or feeling overly anxious
(4) Oversleeping or being unable to sleep even when the baby is asleep
(5) Trouble concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
(6) Experiencing anger or rage
(7) Losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
(8) Suffering with physical aches and pains, frequent headaches, stomach problems and muscle pain
(9) Eating too little or too much
(10) Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family
(11) Having trouble bonding or forming an emotional attachment with her baby
(12) Persistently doubting her ability to care for her baby
(13) Thinking about harming herself or her baby. (Last one is a biggy!!)
Only a health care provider can diagnose if a woman has postpartum depression. This is different from the “baby blues” where feelings of worry, unhappiness and fatigue might be experienced after giving birth. It’s normal for mothers to be worried or tired, causing the baby blues that affects up to 80% of mothers. I always felt a bit depressed as you sometimes do when anticipating something exciting and then getting a let down feeling when it’s over. I guess it’s that adrenaline rush.
The good news is, there are effective treatments for postpartum depression and your health care provider can help with this. Some treatments are:
- Counseling/Talk Therapy, which involves talking one-on-one with a mental health professional.
- Medication of antidepressants that act on the brain chemicals that are involved in mood regulation.
If the postpartum depression is left untreated it can last for months or years and can interfere with her ability to connect with and care for her baby.
The infant might have problems with sleeping, eating and behavior as he/she grows. Family members and friends are usually the first to recognize these symptoms of depression and should encourage her to talk with a health care provider. Offering emotional support and assisting with daily tasks will also help the new mother. There are also hotlines of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) that will help.
Many horrific incidents have happened that place the blame on postpartum depression, so do not let these symptoms go unnoticed. Seek help early and get back to the enjoyment of your baby and your life.