Understanding Postpartum Depression
You’ve just had a baby. You expected to be excited and happy. But instead you find yourself crying for no reason. You may have trouble coping with your daily tasks. You feel sad, tired, and hopeless most of the time. You may even feel ashamed or guilty. But what you’re going through is not your fault and you can feel better. Talk to your healthcare provider. He or she can help.
What is depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that affects the way you think and feel. The most common symptom is a feeling of deep sadness. You may also feel as if you just can’t cope with life. Other symptoms include:
Gaining or losing a lot of weight
Sleeping too much or too little
Feeling tired all the time
Crying a lot
Having too little or too much appetite.
Withdrawing from friends and family
Having headaches, aches and pains, or stomach problems that won't go away.
Fears of harming your baby
Lack of interest in your baby
Feeling worthless or guilty
No longer finding pleasure in things you used to
Having trouble thinking clearly or making decisions
Thinking about death or suicide
Depression after childbirth
You may be weepy and tired right after giving birth. These feelings are normal. They’re sometimes called the “baby blues.” These blues go away after 1 to 2 weeks. However, postpartum (meaning “after birth”) depression lasts much longer and is more severe than the "baby blues." It can make you feel sad and hopeless. You may also fear that your baby will be harmed and worry about being a bad mother.
What causes postpartum depression?
The exact cause of postpartum depression is unknown. Changes in brain chemistry or structure are believed to play a big role in depression. It may be due to changes in your hormones during and after childbirth. You may also be tired from caring for your baby and adjusting to being a mother. All these factors may make you feel depressed. In some cases, your genes may also play a role.
Depression can be treated
There are many ways to treat postpartum depression. Talking to your healthcare provider is the first step toward feeling better.
When to call your healthcare provider
Call your healthcare provider if you:
Cry for no clear reason
Have trouble sleeping, eating, and making choices
Questions whether you can handle caring for a baby
Have intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, or despair that prevent you from being able to do your daily tasks
National Institute of Mental Health
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Mental Health America
National Suicide Hotline
Saint Luke's Postpartum Depression Support Group
Whether you are going through stress, adjustment to parenting, or pregnancy or postpartum depression and anxiety, our group is here for you. Together we will support you on this journey and work together to find strategies to help you cope and adjust.
The support group is offered at Saint Luke's Women's Health East, meets monthly, and can provide childcare if requested.