Postpartum Depression is Not Uncommon –- And Treatment is Effective!
Postpartum depression is a type of clinical depression that occurs in some new moms shortly after they give birth. The nurses at CMMC’s Special Delivery Family Birthing Center screen new moms very carefully for this treatable condition – but it may not become apparent until you are home.
Research indicates that as many as 1 in 6 mothers will experience depressive feelings or the more consistent condition of postpartum depression. The causes are believed to be the significant drop in hormones (primarily estrogen and progesterone) that occur once a woman gives birth. Thyroid levels may also drop significantly, and a low thyroid condition can cause depression. The body may adjust in time and correct itself. (If the cause is low thyroid, that can be easily tested and treated with medication.)
It is important to note any symptoms you are feeling, (see the list, below) and if they persist, tell your healthcare provider. Difficult emotional or life circumstances occurring at the same time can trigger or make postpartum depression worse. Serious, lingering depression is debilitating – but treatable - so don’t hesitate in telling healthcare providers all that you are feeling.
You might not feel like "yourself" for several days after giving birth, due to hormonal changes, fatigue and recovery. However, if after a week or two you notice the following symptoms, set up an appointment with your healthcare provider immediately.
Symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Feelings of being overwhelmed
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling sad and crying frequently
- Lack of interest in social interaction
- Low libido
- No interest in food, or the opposite, overeating
- Lack of energy and motivation
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Memory problems
- Inability to focus
- Inappropriate feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Inexplicable and/or vague body pains
The two most common forms of treatment for postpartum depression, which may be combined, are medication and talk therapy. Some medication may not be appropriate for women who are breastfeeding; your healthcare provider can counsel you about what you can take.
Your choice of therapist may depend on your healthcare provider’s recommendation, your health insurance coverage and your income. Possible therapy resources are: a psychiatrist (a doctor’s referral is usually needed); a psychologist; or a licensed clinical social worker. Ask your doctor or staff at the Special Delivery Family Birthing Center about mental health experts who specialize in postpartum depression.
Please remember that depression is not your fault; it is a condition that affects many new mothers. And most of all – it impacts your new baby. Take steps to get well. Call your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your emotional or psychological state. You can get help to feel better!
For additional resources on post partum despression visit Postpartum Support International.