Did you know?
Research has shown that exercise is an effective, but underused, treatment for mild to moderate depression. Go ahead, put your shoes on and go for a stroll in your neighborhood!
If you had your baby more than 2 weeks ago and are still feeling down and overwhelmed you may want to find out more about postpartum depression.
What is it?
Postpartum depression (PPD) has long been overlooked or mistaken for the “baby blues”. The baby blues are very common, about 60 to 80% of women will experience its symptoms which last from a few days to 2 weeks after delivery. The symptoms may include sadness, irritability, frustration, crying, and fatigue and will resolve on their own.
The symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to the symptoms of the baby blues but they are more persistent. They last throughout the day and for longer than two weeks. They usually develop a few weeks after delivery but can occur at any time during the first year after childbirth.
The symptoms of PPD include:
- Feeling sad, unhappy, crying a lot
- Not enjoying things you usually enjoy
- Having difficulty sleeping (even when someone is taking care of your baby)
- Changes in your appetite
- Blaming one’s self, feeling guilty
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Sense of loss of control
- Worrying a lot for no good reason
- Feelings of anger/irritability
- Suicidal thoughts,
It is estimated that 10 to 20% of new mothers experience postpartum depression however, this number may even be greater as many cases go unreported. Early recognition and treatment are important as if it is left untreated, mild to moderate depression may become progressively severe. Postpartum depression can be treated and you can feel good again. If you are feeling depressed, it is important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms.
There is no single cause for postpartum depression. Different bio-psycho-social factors may all play a role.
- After childbirth, many physical changes occur:
- A dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone may trigger depression.
- The hormones produced by your thyroid gland also may drop sharply- which can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and depressed.
- Changes in your blood volume, blood pressure, immune system and metabolism can lead to fatigue and mood swings.
- When you’re sleep deprived and overwhelmed, you may have trouble handling even minor problems.
- You may be anxious about your ability to care for a newborn.
- You may feel less attractive or struggle with your sense of identity.
- You may feel that you’ve lost control over your life.
- Many social factors can lead to depression, including:
- A demanding baby or older siblings
- Difficulty breast-feeding
- Financial problems
- Lack of support from your partner or other loved on
The good news is that postpartum depression is treatable. If you believe you are suffering from postpartum depression, first contact your physician for a complete medical evaluation including a thyroid screening. Many medical conditions (such as a thyroid imbalance) can mimic postpartum depression and should be ruled out before beginning treatment.
Depending on the nature and severity of your symptoms, your doctor may recommend the use of medication. If you are breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about your options. Some medications can be used while breastfeeding. Work with your doctor to weight the potential risks and benefits as you choose the treatment that’s right for you.
Psychotherapy and participation in a support group can also help you deal PPD. It may help you to talk through your concerns with a mental health professional who has experience with Postpartum disorders. Through counseling, you can find better ways to cope with your feelings and solve problems.
Self Help Tips
Motherhood is a long journey, a marathon, not a sprint.
The most important thing is to remind yourself that you will get better; you will not feel the way you do forever. Take small steps at first – one day at a time and slowly you will see positive changes. Expect some good days and some bad days, adjustments always take time. Here is a list of things you can start doing now to help you feel better.
Take good care of yourself.
- Rest as much as possible, especially when your baby is sleeping or someone is watching her/him.
- Exercise (after medical clearance). Even just walking around your neighborhood can help.
- Make time for you. Lower your expectations, be kind to yourself. Don’t worry about cleaning, vacuuming, doing the laundry. These things can wait.
- Laugh! Rent a good movie, read the cartoons, call someone you know will make you laugh.
Ask for help
- Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
- From you partner, parents, in-laws, family members, friends, neighbors etc. They can help in taking care of the baby, help with chores, meals, running errands. Let them know what they can do to help.
- Eat nutritious foods.
- Avoid caffeine.
- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. It can be tempting to use these substances when you’re feeling bad to lift your mood, but in the end they will make you feel even worse.
Communicate with your partner
- Let your partner know how you are feeling and when you need time for yourself.
- Be specific about what you need, it will help him understand you and how he can help.
- Thank your partner for helping you.
- Set limits with your guests.
- Confide in your friends or someone you trust.
- Connect with other moms dealing with PPD. Screen phone calls.
- Avoid people who make you feel bad.
- Make sure you leave time for pleasurable activities.
- Prioritize what needs to be done and what can wait.
- Set realistic (small) goals for yourself.
- Again, ask for help!
Services at Girlfriends Health
Classes are designed to help you gain back control of you life, decrease symptoms of depression and stress, and help you learn new coping skills that will serve you for the rest of your life. Click Here to Sign-Up!!!
The classes cover six different topics:
- Adjusting to Postpartum Changes
- The Mind-Body Connection Part 1
- The Mind-Body Connection Part 2
- Practicing Self-Care Skills
- Coping with Relationship Changes
- Creating Your Own Postpartum Survival Plan
Resources for Postpartum Adjustments
Online Postpartum Support Group:
- Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields. Hyperion Books; (2005)
- Postpartum Survival Guide by Ann Dunnewold, Diane G. Sanford. New Harbinger; (1994)
- This Isn’t What I Expected : Overcoming Postpartum Depression by Karen Kleiman, Valerie Davis Raskin. Bantam Books; (1994)
- The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood: Coping with Stress, Depression, and Burnout by Kathleen A. Kendall-Tackett PhD., et. al. New Harbinger; (2001)
- The Postpartum Husband by Karen R. Kleiman. Xlibris Corporation; (2001)
- Mothering the New Mother : Women’s Feelings and Needs After Childbirth a Support and Resource Guide by Sally Placksin. Newmarket Press; (2000)
- Mothering the New Mother : Women’s Feelings and Needs After Childbirth a Support and Resource Guide by Sally Placksin. Newmarket Press;2nd edition (2000)
- Beyond The Blues: A Guide to Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression by Shoshana Bennett, Pec Indman. Moodswings Press; (2003)
- Conquering Postpartum Depression by Ronald Rosenberg MD, Deborah Greening Ph.D, James Windell. DaCapo Press; (2004)
- The Darkest Days of My Life : Stories of Postpartum Depression by Natasha Mauthner. Harvard University Press; (2002)
- A Mother’s Tears : Understanding the Mood Swings That Follow Childbirth by Arlene M. Huysman. Seven Stories Press; (1998)
- When Words Are Not Enough : The Women’s Prescription for Depression and Anxiety by Valerie Davis Raskin. Broadway Books; (1997)
- Overcoming Postpartum Depression & Anxiety by Linda Sebastian. LPC; (1998)