What is Postpartum Depression?
The birth of a baby can trigger a jumble of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. But it can also result in something you might not expect — depression.
Most new moms experience postpartum “baby blues” after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery and may last for up to two weeks.
But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression. Rarely, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.
Postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms and help you bond with your baby.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
It’s the type of depression you may get after you have a baby. It can start any time during your baby’s first year, but it’s most common for you to start to feel its effects during the first 3 weeks after birth.
If you have it, you might feel sad, hopeless, and guilty because you may not feel like you want to bond with, or care for, your baby.
Postpartum depression doesn’t just affect first-time moms. You can get it even if you didn’t have it when your other children were born.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Yours might not be the same as for other women, but there are common things to look out for:
- Sadness, loss of hope, despair
- Feeling unable to care for your baby or do basic chores
- Crying a lot, sometimes for no real reason
- Trouble feeling close to your baby, or “bonding”
- Less interest in food, sex, self-care, and other things you used to enjoy
- Too much sleep
- Trouble with focus, learning, or memory
Treatment for postpartum depression
If you have symptoms of postpartum depression, you should see your doctor as soon as possible so that you can get started on treatment.
There are two main treatments for postpartum depression: medication and therapy. Either one can be used alone, but they may be more effective when used together. It’s also important to make some healthy choices in your daily routine.
It may take a few tries to find out what treatment works for you. Keep open communication with your doctor.