Becoming a parent is one of life’s most exciting moments. But this event can also trigger fear, anxiety, or even depression. New moms who experience postpartum depression need to receive the right treatment to manage their symptoms and bond with their babies.
Below, we’ll discuss the common causes of postpartum depression, its risks, and common treatments.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
It is not unusual for new moms to experience baby blues for one or two weeks after giving birth. This is a normal and expected occurrence, characterized by sadness and moodiness following the big event. However, if symptoms last more than two weeks and include issues such as anxiety, feeling heavily stressed, mood swings, marked changes in appetite, and prolonged crying or irritability, postpartum depression could be a factor.
There is no standard set of symptoms for perinatal mental health issues. Some people may experience all of them, and others may only have a few. Postpartum depression is generally characterized by intense symptoms that affect one’s quality of life, such as:
- Extreme tiredness and low energy, but unable to sleep
- Major changes in appetite
- Losing interest in favorite activities or hobbies
- Feeling detached from friends and family
- Experiencing feelings such as sadness, anger, worthlessness, and helplessness
- Feeling ashamed or guilty, especially if the mother cannot bond with or feels uninterested in her baby
- Physical symptoms, such as headaches
- Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting someone else
Postpartum depression can be heightened by normal body changes after birth. Hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone, drop sharply after giving birth, which leads to chemical changes that could trigger mood swings.
Also, giving birth is an exhausting experience, and many new moms may not be able to sleep well, which further exacerbates the symptoms of postpartum depression.
It’s noteworthy that postpartum depression can also affect men. Fathers may experience the same symptoms as women. In general, men experience postnatal depression after their partner has it.
If you or someone you know may suffer from symptoms associated with postpartum depression, you should seek professional help as soon as possible. Free mental health tests are available to help you assess your well-being and determine if you need professional advice or treatment.
Common Causes of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum or postnatal depression may be similar to baby blues initially, but the symptoms are worse and affect the new mom’s daily life. In some cases, depression may start before birth or even one year after giving birth, which makes it difficult to determine the exact causes of perinatal mental health issues.
Some of the main triggers or causes of postpartum depression include:
- Lack of support during the pregnancy or after giving birth
- Major life events, such as the death of a loved one or job loss
- History of mental health problems
- Low self-esteem, abuse, or stress
- Complications during birth or having a baby with medical issues
- Previous difficult experiences in life, such as difficult childhood, neglect, prior loss of an infant
Risks of Postpartum Depression
Long-lasting baby blues, or postpartum depression, is relatively common among new moms. Unfortunately, it comes with a variety of risks.
New mothers who struggle with postpartum depression may have difficulty caring for their babies because of the symptoms. Irritability, sadness, or anxiety impact the quality of life and the mother’s ability to bond with and take care of her baby. In severe cases, new mothers harm themselves or their babies.
As the disorder comes with intense symptoms, it can affect the mother’s family life, including her spouse, other children, and relationships with friends, parents, and other loved ones.
Treatment for Postpartum Depression
Many women experience postpartum depression. It cannot be brushed off by “pulling yourself together” and should be considered as serious as any other physical illness. A woman experiencing symptoms associated with depression should seek medical help and appropriate treatment based on her unique situation.
Treatment for postpartum depression can take the form of counseling, medication, or both. Mental health counseling involves talking to a mental health professional who can help new mothers navigate their feelings and cope with the changes in their lives.
Examples of coping mechanisms include exercising, eating an appropriate diet, focusing on your relationship with your partner, staying in touch with friends and family, and resting whenever your baby sleeps.
In some cases, counseling may need to be combined with antidepressants, which target chemical imbalances in the brain. If you are breastfeeding, it’s important to know that there are drugs used to treat depression in new mothers without putting their babies at risk. It is essential to discuss this with your healthcare provider, who can help determine the right treatment for you while breastfeeding.
Many new mothers may be embarrassed or ashamed of how they feel, but it’s important to remember that postpartum depression is common and treatable. If left untreated, it can harm both the mother’s and baby’s health in the long term. Support from friends and family is crucial for all new mothers, as is medical help when necessary.
If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.
About the Author: Zain Ul Abideen is a skilled medical content writer with a passion for crafting engaging and informative healthcare content that educates and inspires readers. With his expertise in medical writing, Zain is committed to delivering accurate and reliable information to help people make informed decisions about their health and well-being.
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