You gave birth a few weeks ago and have a beautiful new baby. Your emotions have been all over the place and since you gave birth you’ve felt everything from total jubilation to tearful sadness. It is perfectly normal to feel a wide range of emotions following childbirth. The hormone levels in your body are still adjusting and that can cause moodiness and irritability. Feeling teary, hopeless, overwhelmed, and sad within a few weeks of child birth is referred to as baby blues. Many women experience moments of happiness and joy while going through baby blues and usually return to normal within a week or two. However, if your baby blues have been going on for more than 2 or 3 weeks it may be time to contact a mental health professional.
Persistent sadness and joylessness following childbirth lasting longer than 2 or 3 weeks could be postpartum depression. You may already be familiar with this mood disorder because it has garnered more and more attention over the last 5 years. So what is postpartum depression exactly and how could you help identify it in yourself or a loved one?
According to WebMd, postpartum depression is a mood disorder that occurs within the first few months following childbirth. Unlike the baby blues, postpartum depression requires treatment from a mental health provider or it can become more severe and debilitating. Postpartum depression can also be triggered following a miscarriage or stillbirth. Certain women are more likely to develop postpartum depression than others. Certain factors such as a history of depression, poor social support, stress, and birthing a sick or colicky baby can increase the likelihood of developing postpartum depression.
Be aware of the common warning signs of depression and share your state of mind following childbirth with friends, family, and your doctor. Typical signs of this type of depression include feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. Many women will also experience increased anxiety along with changes in sleeping patterns such as sleeping too much or too little. Changes in eating habits are sign of possible depression. Physical symptoms to look out for are rapid weight gain or weight loss and a lack of energy or loss of interest in usually enjoyed activities. Lack of interest in your baby or extreme concern or anxiety about the baby’s health is also common.
Pregnancy and childbirth challenges both the body and mind. Do not feel ashamed or guilty if you believe that you may have postpartum depression. A recent study revealed that almost 15% of women struggle with postpartum depression. Mental health screenings during pregnancy and following pregnancy reduces the chance of suffering from long-lasting depression. According to the researchers of the same study, a new mother’s mental and emotional state can interfere with the development of the child.
If you are currently pregnant or recently had a child and would like a depression screening, please contact me. I have extensive experience counseling women who are experiencing emotional difficulties before, during, or after pregnancy.
Your Relationship Expert,