Many women have feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety, and tiredness after childbirth. But, how do you know when it is more than just the baby blues? Postpartum depression is a serious mental health condition that can affect women after they give birth. It does not happen to all women but it is common, with about 10% to 15% of new moms experiencing some type of postpartum depression. These feelings can start right after you give birth or up to several months after you have your baby.
Who Is Most at Risk?
Although anyone can get postpartum depression, there are certain people who are more susceptible. For example:
- Having a previous mental health disorder
- Family history of mental health disorders
- Problems with pregnancy
- Divorce or death of a partner
- Early delivery
- Stressful events during pregnancy or after you give birth.
- Being under the age of 18 or over the age of 45
- Not having a good support system
- Lack of monetary funds
- Problems with breastfeeding
- Multiple births
- Any kind of abuse or neglect
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Other medical problems before, during, or after childbirth
Signs of Postpartum Depression
Some of the signs of postpartum depression include:
- Feelings of sadness or depression for more than two weeks
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Feeling anxious, worried, panicked, or having racing thought
- Lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Extreme fatigue
- Severe rage or anger
- Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
- Not being able to make decisions
- Forgetting things
- Lack of concentration
- Feeling you cannot take care of your baby properly
- Feelings of failure or hopelessness
- Unable to bond or lack of emotional attachment to your baby
- Eating more or less than usual
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
How to Talk to Family Members About Your Feelings
If you have any of the above feelings or any feelings that concern you, it is important to talk to someone. Even if you do not want to, it is imperative that you let others know how you feel before you do anything that may be dangerous to you or your baby. Tell your partner that you are feeling more tired than usual and need someone to help you with caring for your baby or doing some chores around the house. Let someone in your family know that you are feeling stressed and need to talk. Do not keep it to yourself. If you are not able to talk to a family member or friend about your feelings, try talking to your doctor. If that does not work, there are online groups and therapists who can help you with postpartum depression. You do not even need to leave your house and in most cases, you do not even need an appointment.
Some Treatments for Postpartum Depression
Because many women breastfeed or are worried that taking medication may make them too tired to care for their baby, they do not get the help they need. However, there are other forms of therapy that you can use to relieve your postpartum depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy are both good choices for new moms. Also, there are many new antidepressant medications that are safe for you to use while you are breastfeeding and their side effects are minimal. You do not have to suffer just because you have a baby to take care of. You have to take care of yourself first, before you can care for anyone else.
About the Author
Katherine Bengan, RN MSN finished her bachelor of science in nursing Cum Laude and started to work as a Medical-Surgical Nurse at Philippine General Hospital. After a brief stay in the hospital setting, she started a career in the nursing academe as Clinical Instructor and Academic Coordinator for nursing courses like Medical-Surgical Nursing, Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, and Nursing Informatics. Her clinical skills and exposure continued for 12 years in the hospital setting and the National Center for Mental Health in the Philippines. In 2016, she finished her Master's degree in electronic health management from Rome Business School. She has written numerous articles about mental health and different disorders. Currently, she's doing more freelancing work and spends time more with her family.