Those of you who have had a baby know how overwhelmingly difficult it can be . The reality of having a baby, and the physical, emotional, and relationship changes that it brings, impact women in enormous ways. With all of these changes, many women never expect to experience Postpartum Depression (PPD). Yet one in five women will develop PPD sometime in their life.
People need to understand that Postpartum Depression is a real and treatable medical illness, not a mental defect or a character flaw. Postpartum Depression should be no more embarrassing than having diabetes. Venis and McCloskey
As a mother (or expecting mother) you need to be informed about Postpartum Depression. In this two-part article I will be taking a closer look at a common phenomenon many mothers experience. In my first article, I will help you to better understand PPD by discussing its signs and symptoms. In the second article, I will discuss the risk factors involved and some practical ways to care for yourself.
- Postpartum Blues or “The Baby Blues”
- Postpartum Depression
- Postpartum Psychosis
What are The Baby Blues?
The Baby Blues are mild mood swings that occur in the first few weeks after birth. After giving birth, as many as eighty percent of new mothers will experience The Baby Blues. Normally these feelings occur suddenly four to five days after the birth of your baby and will diminish three weeks after delivery. The most common symptoms include:
- Crying for no apparent reason
- Mood swings with irritability and anxiousness
- Feel overwhelmed
- Lack of concentration
- Change in eating and sleeping patterns
While these symptoms are quite unpleasant, they are considered normal and typically resolve themselves on their own within a week to two weeks once your hormone levels have settled. The Baby Blues are different from PPD because you are able to care for yourself and your baby. By getting as much rest as possible, and having a good support system, you can help these symptoms seem less severe.
What is Postpartum Depression and Anxiety?
Approximately fifteen to twenty percent of new mothers will experience what is classified as PPD. Symptoms may occur quickly within a few days after delivery or sometimes as much as a year later. Women who experience postpartum depression will have alternating good days and bad days. Symptoms can be mild or severe, usually lasting for over two weeks. Because postpartum depression can range in severity, it is very important that any woman experiencing these symptoms talk with her health care provider. Possible treatment may range from different types of therapy to medication.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
There are many possible symptoms of postpartum depression, including the following:
- Inability to sleep or sleeping more than normal
- Change in appetite
- Extreme concern and worry about the baby
- A lack of interest in or feelings for the baby
- Feeling unable to love the baby or your family
- Anger toward the baby, your partner, or other family members
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Sadness or excessive crying
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Feelings of doubt, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, or restlessness
- Lethargy or extreme fatigue
- Loss of interest in hobbies or other usual activities
- Mood swings marked by exaggerated highs and lows
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Numbness or tingling in your arms or legs
- Fear of harming your baby; these thoughts may be obsessive, and you may be afraid to be left alone in the house with your baby.
- Frequent calls to the pediatrician with an inability to be reassured
- Recurrent thoughts of death or thinking about or even planning suicide
- Obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors that are intrusive
What is Postpartum Psychosis?
Postpartum Psychosis is a serious illness that usually begins within the first two weeks after birth. This illness occurs in one to two per thousand women and is frequently preceded by Bipolar Disorder. If left untreated this disorder has a five percent suicide rate and four percent of these mothers kill their infants. Postpartum Psychosis is rare; however, it requires immediate medical attention. Some of the symptoms include:
- Seeing, hearing, or feeling things that others do not
- Delusional thinking
- Mania – elevated energy or impulsive behaviors
- Confusion – bewilderment
- Paranoia – including persecutory beliefs or perceived threats
- Symptoms that come and go
How Will I Know if I Have PPD?
You will most likely know better than anyone else if there are concerns around your mood. But, like many mothers, you may deny having postpartum depression. It is important to understand the following about PPD.
- PPD symptoms are quite common.
- PPD is treatable.
- You will get well.
- Here is some information that will help you
Christian Counseling Can Help You Overcome Postpartum Depression
Do not feel ashamed . If you seek out proper help from supportive and loving people, you will get better. If you think you are suffering from PPD, it is important to follow up with your medical doctor or OB/GYN. Individual sessions with a trained Christian counselor can help you to more clearly define your level of PPD and help to alleviate the symptoms. If you are interested in beginning your journey toward a healthy postpartum experience, reach out.
Bennet, S. & Indman, P. (2010). Beyond the Blues: Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. San Jose, CA: Moodswings Press.
Bennet, S. (2007). Postpartum Depression For Dummies. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wiley Publishing Inc.
Dalfen, A. (2009). When Baby Brings the Blues: Solutions for Postpartum Depression, Mississauga, Ontario: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Rosenberg, R., Greening, D., & Windell, J. (2003). Conquering Postpartum Depression: A Proven Plan for Recovery. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing.
Venis, J. & McCloskey, S. (2007). Postpartum Depression Demystified: An Essential Guide to Understanding and Overcoming the Most common Complication after Childbirth. New York, NY: Marlowe and Company.
- “Baby S Foot In Mother S Hand” courtesy of taoty from FreeDigitalPhotos.netID#10069591
- “Newborn Baby Sleeping” courtesy of papaija2008 from FreeDigitalPhotos.net