Postpartum Depression

Did you know that women who have just given birth can experience a form of depression? It may sound strange since childbirth is supposed to be a wonderful time in person’s life, but it does happen, more frequently than you might expect.

After giving birth, it is not uncommon for a woman to feel sad, anxious, tired, have difficulty sleeping, and have occasional mood swings. These symptoms usually don’t last more than a week or two and are often referred to as having the “Baby Blues.”
Postpartum depression lasts longer, is more intense, and can affect a mother’s general health.

There are several factors that can lead to postpartum depression. After childbirth, hormone levels change dramatically causing a woman to feel tired and depressed. There are also changes in blood pressure, blood volume and metabolism that can all contribute to mood swings and depression. A diagnosis of clinical postpartum depression usually means that the symptoms started within 4 weeks of giving birth.

Common signs and symptoms of postpartum depression are:

• Loss of appetite

• Intense irritability

• Severe mood swings

• Difficulty bonding with the baby

• Insomnia

• Constant feeling of fatigue

In an extreme form, post partum depression can lead to post partum psychosis. In this condition a woman may try to harm herself or her baby, become paranoid, have hallucinations, or may become disoriented.

Some of the risk factors of postpartum depression include having a history of depression, relationship problems with the father of the child, financial struggles, and having experienced this after a prior child’s birth..

Children of women who suffer from the long term effects of untreated postpartum depression may exhibit behavioral problems, have frequent temper tantrums and may develop sleeping and eating disorders.

Treatment for postpartum depression determined by the severity of the symptoms. When the symptoms are very mild, it may resolve with plenty of rest and support from family and friends. In more severe situations psychiatric care may be necessary as well as medication. Antidepressants are sometimes given, however, if the mother is breast feeding, it is important that the doctor be made aware of this. Hormone therapy can also be used to balance the sudden drop in estrogen which takes place after childbirth.

After giving birth, it is important to get plenty of rest, eat a well balanced diet, have people around who can help out and most importantly, plan activities that allow them to enjoy being mothers.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.