The birth of a child can elicit many different emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and doubt and in some cases, symptoms of depression. Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a serious mental health condition experienced by some women after childbirth.
According to research, up to 80% of women experience “baby blues” after giving birth. It’s usually caused by the sudden change in hormones after delivery, combined with stress, isolation, sleep deprivation, and fatigue. You might feel more tearful, overwhelmed, and emotionally fragile. The baby blues is mild and temporary and typically resolves itself within 10-14 days. However, postpartum depression is a more serious problem (e.g., suicidal thoughts or an inability to care for your newborn) and longer lasting.
There are many possible causes for the development of postpartum depression. It can be the combination of hormonal changes, physical changes, and stress. Additional risk factors are a preexisting diagnosis of depression, a baby with special needs, lack of support, birth to multiples (twins, triplets, etc.), marital problems, medical problems during pregnancy, and difficulty breastfeeding among many. Despite PPD’s prevalence and the fact that it’s treatable, women still have trouble overcoming the stigma. As a society, there is a lot of pressure on women to “succeed” at motherhood, and the feeling of inadequacy can be demoralizing. There is a sense of shame associated with not feeling gratitude enough or immense joy for experiencing motherhood. Unlike other mental health conditions, women feel their competency as a mother is questioned if they openly admit that they are struggling. Other reasons why women don’t seek help is either misconception or lack of knowledge about the condition. However, with awareness and education preventative measures can be taken.
Tips for postpartum depression:
- Create a postpartum support plan during pregnancy.
- Learn how to create a secure attachment with your newborn.
- Ask for help (with baby, chores, errands, etc.).
- Communicate your feelings to someone (your partner, friend, family, counselor).
- Improve your self-care (getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and taking time to relax).
- Join a mother’s group, it can be reassuring to hear other mothers are facing similar challenges.
Coyne, D. (2020, March 10). The difference between baby blues and post-natal depression. Retrieved August 30, 2020, from https://www.alustforlife.com/tools/mental-health/the-difference-between-baby-blues-and-post-natal-depression
Pietrangelo, A. (2016, December 07). Postpartum Depression: Symptoms, Treatment, and More. Retrieved August 30, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/postpartum-depression
Postpartum depression. (2019, May 14). Retrieved August 30, 2020, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/postpartum-depression
The authors are affiliated with the Department of Physician Assistant Education. (n.d.). Postpartum depression: Symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Journal of the American Academy of PAs. Retrieved August 30, 2020, from https://journals.lww.com/jaapa/Fulltext/2013/02000/Postpartum_depression__Symptoms,_diagnosis,_and.9.aspx