It’s normal for new mothers to feel sad at times after giving birth. After all, your hormone levels are shifting drastically, you’re sleep deprived, and your whole life has changed in an instant. But when the “baby blues” something more? If these symptoms begin to affect your ability to function, you may be experiencing postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression typically describes symptoms of depression that last longer than two weeks after the birth of your baby. These can include any combination of mood swings, sadness and crying jags, anxiety, irritability, trouble concentrating, insomnia, loss of appetite, feelings of shame or guilt, difficulty bonding with your infant, withdrawal from family and friends, or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
While these symptoms are quite scary, the good news is that they are highly treatable. See your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms and they haven’t resolved within two weeks after giving birth, if they are making it difficult to care for yourself and your baby, and especially if they are worsening or include thoughts of harming yourself or others.
The causes of postpartum depression vary and include a combination of physical changes, emotional changes, and lifestyle disruption. It is more common among women who already have a history of clinical depression or developed postpartum depression after a previous pregnancy; experienced a complicated pregnancy or other difficulties, such as illness or job loss; are having relationship problems; lack family or social support; have financial issues; or had an unplanned pregnancy.
Postpartum depression is usually treated with a combination of medication and counseling. Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants, some of which are safe to use while breastfeeding. Meeting with a counselor who specializes in postpartum depression can help you sort out your feelings and find ways to cope with the life changes you’re experiencing. With these treatments, postpartum depression usually resolves in a few months. However, it’s important to continue treatment even as you begin to feel better or you may have a relapse of symptoms.
In addition to these measures, you may consider attending a support group for new moms who are experiencing similar feelings. In addition, lifestyle changes, such as exercising or taking time with friends, can help ease your symptoms.
If you experienced postpartum depression with a previous pregnancy and are thinking about having another child, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants as a preventive measure. If you’re already taking medications, talk with him or her about the risk and benefits about continuing your treatment during your pregnancy.
At South Lake OB/GYN and Advanced Surgery in Clermont, we are here to help you through all stages of your pregnancy and want to offer assistance in any way we can. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.