Postpartum depression is a severe, often long lasting mood disorder triggered in some women by childbirth. Often mistaken for the simple and more common, “babyblues”, postpartum depression, or PPD, often lasts much longer and includes a variety of symptoms that can impact your ability to care for yourself and/or you child.
No one truly knows what causes it (hormones are thought to be a part of it), and no one can prevent themselves from getting it. Nor does it mean you don’t love your baby or won’t be a good mom.
And, while you likely feel alone while struggling with it, PDD is not uncommon. Researchers estimate that about 15% of new moms will suffer with this illness after giving birth to their children.
Yet, doctors and other medical practitioners don’t seem to be screening for it as they should and countless women suffer in silence.
PLEASE DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE.
Tell someone close to you that you’re struggling. Talk to your doctor. Join the mom.life app and seek support there (we have a group for those dealing with this illness where you can talk to other women who get it). Reach out in some way because this illness is treatable. You truly don’t have to be miserable.
Think you might have it or trying to get ahead of the curve so you don’t suffer after giving birth? Here are some thing to know about postpartum depression.
You Are Not Alone: 10 Things to Know About Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is a form of mental illness.
Which means you need to seek medical care for treatment, as you would with any other sort of illness you might catch. There’s no reason for you to suffer or try to “beat it” on your own. If you suspect you’re suffering from PPD, make an appointment with your doctor and get help.
PPD is not the same thing as the “baby blues”.
The baby blues are a response to the changes in hormones all women experience after giving birth. It is considered normal and goes away on its own in a short period of time. While some of the symptoms seem to match up, the difference between postpartum depression and the baby blues tends to be duration and severity. The baby blues symptoms are often milder and do not last beyond about 2 weeks postpartum. PPD is not diagnosed until after this period and has a lot to do with how severe and long-lasting your symptoms are.
The symptoms of PPD vary.
And they aren’t just “feeling sad”. PPD tends to be a long-term illness (lasting longer than two weeks) and can be quite severe. You may have some or all of these symptoms and they won’t be once in awhile or sometimes. We all feel frustrated sometimes. We all feel sad once in a while. Every mom with a newborn is exhausted. With PPD, these symptoms are persistent and often they get in your way of functioning well as a new mom. Common symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Persistent sadness and anxiousness
- Severe mood swings
- Frustration, irritability, restlessness, anger.
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or helplessness
- Guilt, shame, worthlessness
- Low self-esteem
- Numbness, emptiness
- Inability to be comforted
- Trouble bonding with the baby
- Feeling inadequate in taking care of the baby
- Lack of interest in things you once cared about
- Poor sleep habits
- Social withdraw
- Appetite changes
- Thinking about harming yourself or your child
Nothing you did caused you to have postpartum depression.
While the cause is not truly known, we do know you are not to blame. PPD is thought to be caused partially by hormonal changes in your body following birth. Other factors may also play a role.
Some women are more likely to suffer with PPD than others.
These are called risk factors and, while having them doesn’t guarantee you will have PPD after giving birth, they do indicate that you are more likely to.
Some risk factors for PPD include:
- Prenatal depression issues
- Family history of depression
- Birth related trauma
- External stressors, like marital issues and lack of support
Even if you didn’t have PPD with your first baby, you may have it with your next one.
Just like every pregnancy is different, every postpartum experience is different. Just because you didn’t suffer the first time around, doesn’t mean you won’t during you subsequent pregnancies. Similarly, just because you had PPD after your first baby, doesn’t mean you will definitely have it with your second -you should be on the look out, however, as previous depression issues is a risk factor for postpartum depression.
It is safe to take PPD medications while breastfeeding.
Your doctor will know just what to prescribe, but you should not avoid treatment for fear of medications interfering with your ability to breastfeed your baby. Many medications used to treat PPD do not pass into your breastmilk.
You should not be ashamed about how you are feeling.
You didn’t cause yourself to have postpartum depression and you should not be ashamed of the fact that you are dealing with a mental illness. You have nothing to feel guilty about. There are countless support groups and websites online designed to help you make sense of what you are experiencing. The Postpartum Mama is a great place to go for information, guidance, and support.
The mom.life app has a PPD support group.
All women in our app are welcome to join the dealing with mental illness group is meant to be a supportive, judgment free space for you to talk about anything you need to talk about with women who get it.
Getting support is the most important element.
When it comes to prevention, the best thing you can do as a new mom is make sure you have adequate support. Ask for help when you need it, have people around you who care for you and the baby, and speak up when you feel like something isn’t right.
Feeling alone in your new mom life? Think you may be suffering from PPD? Please speak to your doctor.