Postpartum Depression: Symptoms, Signs & Treatment Options
Identifying Signs of Postpartum Depression
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What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a treatable mental health condition that can affect someone who has just given birth. It’s natural to feel a bit emotional and unsteady in the days after delivering a baby, but PPD symptoms tend to last longer and be more severe than the typical baby blues.
Giving birth is a major life change, to say the least. You’re welcoming a new baby into the world while dealing with some intense post-delivery hormonal fluctuations. In the days after your baby is born, you may notice yourself crying more often, feeling overwhelmed, or navigating insomnia, mood swings, and loss of appetite. These feelings (aka the baby blues) are a normal part of the postpartum experience and, usually, they go away within a week or two.
Postpartum depression, on the other hand, can linger for weeks, months, or longer. PPD symptoms are more severe than baby blues and often include guilt, shame, and hopelessness. Over time, these symptoms can interfere with your daily life and make it hard for you to care for your baby and yourself. They can leave you feeling isolated and ashamed to ask for help – but you’re not alone.
What are the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression can look different for everyone. You may start noticing symptoms anywhere between a few days to a year after your delivery. Common signs of PPD include:
- Persistent sadness, guilt, or self-doubt
- Anxiety and significant mood swings
- Loss of interest in hobbies or other things you used to enjoy
- Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
- Insomnia or excessive sleep
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Trouble thinking, focusing or making decisions
- Changes in your appetite
- Crying more often, or crying without an identifiable reason
- Difficulty bonding with your baby or feeling that you don’t want your baby
- Thoughts of harming yourself or others
What should you do if you think you have postpartum depression?
With postpartum depression, worries of being a “bad mother” or a “bad parent” can make you feel like you should hide your symptoms from the world. You’re not a bad parent for having these feelings, and what you’re experiencing absolutely deserves being addressed by an expert. If you think you may have PPD, schedule a visit with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. They’ll work with you to determine the proper treatment path for your symptoms. Depending on your specific situation, treatment may include some combination of counseling, support groups, mindfulness meditation, and/or medication.
FYI: Many antidepressants are safe for use while breastfeeding. Just make sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting any new medications.
Your family, including and especially your new baby, wants you to be happy and healthy. Don’t be afraid to ask your loved ones for help with childcare (for your new baby or for older kids) and other responsibilities, and try to make time for self-care. Take a walk outside, meditate, start a journal, or enjoy a warm bath – whatever makes you feel nourished and grounded.
Postpartum depression can be lonely and even defeating, but it’s not your fault you feel this way. It may not seem like it right now, but PPD is treatable. Asking for help is the single biggest step you can take towards feeling like yourself again. Treatment offers the support and understanding you need to manage your symptoms, bond with your new baby, and rediscover the joy in your life.
Please be aware: JunoDx.com and the materials and information it contains are not intended to be and do not constitute medical advice, other health advice, or diagnosis. Do not use JunoDx.com or the materials and information published at JunoDx.com as a substitute for medical care and treatment. You should always consult with a qualified physician or healthcare provider about your specific circumstances.