Postpartum Depression

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What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression - Mayo Clinic
NIH: Postpartum Depression Facts
The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (in Plain Mama English
Adele's words about postpartum depression are profane, raw, and honest.

What Is Postpartum Depression?


Depression During Pregnancy and after Childbirth

For most women, having a baby is a very exciting, joyous, and often anxious time. But for women with postpartum, or peripartum, depression it can become very distressing and difficult. Postpartum depression is a serious, but treatable medical illness involving feelings of extreme sadness, indifference and/or anxiety, as well as changes in energy, sleep, and appetite. It carries risks for the mother and child.

Women can also experience depression during pregnancy. Peripartum depression refers to depression occurring during pregnancy or after childbirth. The use of the term peripartum recognizes that depression associated with having a baby often begins during pregnancy.

An estimated one in seven women experiences peripartum depression.1

Pregnancy and the period after delivery can be a particularly vulnerable time for women. Mothers often experience immense biological, emotional, financial, and social changes during this time. Some women can be at an increased risk for developing mental health problems, particularly depression and anxiety.

Up to 70 percent of all new mothers experience the “baby blues,” a short-lasting condition that doesn’t interfere with daily activities and doesn’t require medical attention. Symptoms of this emotional condition may include crying for no reason, irritability, restlessness, and anxiety. These symptoms last a week or two and generally resolve on their own without treatment.

Peripartum depression is different from the “baby blues” in that it is emotionally and physically debilitating and may continue for months or more. Getting treatment is important for both the mother and the child.

Peripartum depression is not the “baby blues.”

In January 2016, the U.S. Prevention Services Task Force updated its recommendation for depression screening in adults to include screening pregnant and postpartum women.

Untreated peripartum depression is not only a problem for the mother’s health and quality of life, but can affect the well-being of the baby who can be born prematurely, with low birth weight. Peripartum depression can cause bonding issues with the baby and can contribute to sleeping and feeding problems for the baby. In the longer-term, children of mothers with peripartum depression are at greater risk for cognitive, emotional, development and verbal deficits and impaired social skills. 2, 3

Symptoms of peripartum depression 4

  • Sluggishness, fatigue
  • Feeling sad, hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Difficulty sleeping/sleeping too much
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating/confusion
  • Crying for “no reason”
  • Lack of interest in the baby, not feeling bonded to the baby, or feeling very anxious about the baby
  • Feelings of being a bad mother
  • Fear of harming the baby or oneself
  • A loss of interest or pleasure in life

A woman experiencing depression usually has several of these symptoms, and the symptoms and their severity may change. These symptoms may cause new mothers to feel isolated, guilty, or ashamed. To be diagnosed with peripartum depression, symptoms must begin within four weeks following delivery. However, symptoms of depression may occur at any time

Many women with peripartum depression also experience symptoms of anxiety. One study found that nearly two-thirds of women with peripartum depression also had an anxiety disorder. 5

While there is no specific diagnostic test for peripartum depression, it is a real illness that should be taken seriously. Any pregnant woman or new mother who experiences the symptoms of peripartum depression should seek evaluation by a medical professional – an internal medicine doctor or an OB-GYN, who can make referrals to a psychiatrist or other mental health professional. Assessment should include a psychiatric evaluation and a medical evaluation to rule out physical problems that may have symptoms similar to depression (such as thyroid problems or vitamin deficiencies).

You should contact your doctor if

  • You are experiencing several of the symptoms above for more than two weeks
  • You have thoughts of suicide or thoughts of harming your child
  • Your depressed feelings are getting worse
  • You are having trouble with daily tasks or taking care of your baby

Who Is at Risk?

Any new mother can experience the symptoms of peripartum depression or other mood disorder. Women are at increased risk of depression during or after pregnancy if they have previously experienced (or have a family history of) depression or other mood disorders, if they are experiencing particularly stressful life events in addition to the pregnancy, or if they don’t have the support of family and friends.

Research suggests that rapid changes in sex and stress hormones and thyroid levels during and after delivery have a strong effect on moods and may contribute to peripartum depression. Other factors that may contribute include physical changes with pregnancy, changes in relationships and at work, worries about parenting and lack of sleep.

Fathers: Pregnancy/childbirth and Depression

New fathers can also experience symptoms of postpartum depression. Symptoms may include fatigue and changes in eating or sleeping. An estimated 4 percent of fathers experience depression in the first year after their child’s birth. Younger fathers, fathers with a history of depression and fathers with financial difficulties are at increased risk of experiencing depression. 1

Treatment

Many women may suffer in silence, dismissing their struggles as a normal part of pregnancy and childbirth and not seek care. Treatment for depression during pregnancy is essential. Greater awareness and understanding can lead to better outcomes for women and their babies.

Like other types of depression, peripartum depression can be treated with psychotherapy (talk therapy), medication, lifestyle changes and supports, or a combination of these. Women who are pregnant or nursing should discuss the risks and benefits of medication with their doctors. In general, the risk of birth defects to the unborn baby are low, and the decision should be made based on the potential risks and benefits.

APA guidelines for treating women with major depressive disorder who are pregnant or breastfeeding recommend psychotherapy without medication as a first-line treatment when the depression or anxiety is mild. For women with moderate or severe depression or anxiety, antidepressant medication should be considered as a primary treatment, according to the guidelines. 6

Antidepressant options during pregnancy:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): Work with your physician, but note that some SSRIs have been associated with a rare but serious lung problem in newborn babies (persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn).
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

For more information on pregnancy/depression and psychiatric medications, see MotherToBaby from the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists, and Breastfeeding and Psychiatric Medications from Massachusetts General Hospital, Center for Women’s Mental Health.

With proper treatment, most new mothers find relief from their symptoms. Women who are treated for peripartum depression should continue treatment even after they feel better. If treatment is stopped too soon, symptoms can recur.

Self-help and Coping

The support of family and friends, joining a mom’s support group, and good nutrition and exercise can be helpful. Other suggestions for helping to cope with depression around pregnancy include resting as much as you can (sleep when your baby sleeps) and make time to go out or visit friends.

How Partners, Family and Friends Can Help

Strong support from partners, family and friends is very important. Here are some suggestions from the Moms’ Mental Health Matters, a National Institutes for Health initiative, for how loved ones can help:

Know the Signs. Learn to recognize the symptoms of depression and anxiety and if you see signs, urge her to see a health care provider.

Listen to Her. Let her know you want to hear her concerns. For example, "I notice you are having trouble sleeping, even when the baby sleeps. What's on your mind?"

Give Her Support. Let her know she's not alone and you are here to help. Try offering to help with household tasks or watching the baby while she gets some rest or visits friends.

Encourage her to get help if needed. She may feel uncomfortable and not want to seek help. Encourage her to talk with a health care provider. Share some information on peripartum conditions. Offer to make an appointment for her talk with someone.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for free and confidential emotional support—they talk about more than just suicide. For those more comfortalble texting, Text "SOS" to 741741.

Related conditions during pregnancy and after childbirth

Peripartum anxiety – Although estimates vary, a recent study found that about 16 percent of women experience an anxiety disorder during pregnancy and about 17 percent during the postpartum period. 7 After giving birth, some women develop intense anxiety, with rapid heart rate, a sense of impending doom and irrational fears and obsessions. Feeling guilty and blaming oneself when things go wrong, worrying and feeling panicky for no good reason are signs of anxiety in the peripartum period. 8

Treatment may include medication and therapy, alone or in combination.

Peripartum bipolar disorder – Bipolar disorder has 2 phases, the depression phase (the ‘lows’) and the manic phase (the ‘highs’). When the ‘lows’ and ‘highs’ happen at the same time, it is considered a ‘mixed’ episode. Bipolar illness can emerge during pregnancy or the postpartum period. Risk factors include a previous mood disorder and family history of mood disorders.

Symptoms of depression and mania:

  • Severe sadness and irritability
  • Elevated mood
  • Rapid speech and racing thoughts
  • Little or no sleep and high energy
  • Impulsive decisions and poor judgment
  • Delusions that can be grandiose or paranoid
  • Hallucinations – seeing or hearing things that are not present

Treatment can include mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications 9 along with therapy.

Postpartum Psychosis – Postpartum psychosis is an extremely rare but serious condition — it occurs in only one or two out of every 1,000 deliveries. The symptoms of postpartum psychosis are extreme and may include insomnia, excessive energy, agitation, hearing voices, and extreme paranoia or suspiciousness. Many women with postpartum psychosis have a personal or family history of bipolar disorder. Symptoms of postpartum psychosis can be a serious medical emergency and require immediate attention.
Source: projectsemicolon.com/postpartum-depression/

Postpartum depression By Mayo Clinic


Definition

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.

Many new moms experience the "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 enjoy your baby.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of depression after childbirth vary, and they can range from mild to severe.

Postpartum baby blues symptoms

Signs and symptoms of baby blues — which last only a few days to a week or two after your baby is born — may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Crying
  • Reduced concentration
  • Appetite problems
  • Trouble sleeping

Postpartum depression symptoms

Postpartum depression may be mistaken for baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and last longer, eventually interfering with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin later — up to six months after birth.

Postpartum depression symptoms may include:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you're not a good mother
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer.

Postpartum psychosis

With postpartum psychosis — a rare condition that typically develops within the first week after delivery — the signs and symptoms are even more severe. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Obsessive thoughts about your baby
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Paranoia
  • Attempts to harm yourself or your baby

Postpartum psychosis may lead to life-threatening thoughts or behaviors and requires immediate treatment.

When to see a doctor

If you're feeling depressed after your baby's birth, you may be reluctant or embarrassed to admit it. But if you experience any symptoms of postpartum baby blues or postpartum depression, call your doctor and schedule an appointment. If you have symptoms that suggest you may have postpartum psychosis, get help immediately.

It's important to call your doctor as soon as possible if the signs and symptoms of depression have any of these features:

  • Don't fade after two weeks
  • Are getting worse
  • Make it hard for you to care for your baby
  • Make it hard to complete everyday tasks
  • Include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

If you have suicidal thoughts

If at any point you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, immediately seek help from your partner or loved ones in taking care of your baby and call 911 or your local emergency assistance number to get help.

Also consider these options if you're having suicidal thoughts:

  • Call your mental health specialist.
  • Call a suicide hotline number — in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) and the Crrisis Text Liine is 741741.
  • Seek help from your primary doctor or other health care provider.
  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
  • Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.

Helping a friend or loved one

People with depression may not recognize or acknowledge that they're depressed. They may not be aware of signs and symptoms of depression. If you suspect that a friend or loved one has postpartum depression or is developing postpartum psychosis, help them seek medical attention immediately. Don't wait and hope for improvement.

Causes

There's no single cause of postpartum depression, but physical and emotional issues may play a role.

Physical changes. After childbirth, a dramatic drop in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in your body may contribute to postpartum depression. Other hormones produced by your thyroid gland also may drop sharply — which can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and depressed.

Emotional issues. When you're sleep deprived and overwhelmed, you may have trouble handling even minor problems. You may be anxious about your ability to care for a newborn. You may feel less attractive, struggle with your sense of identity or feel that you've lost control over your life. Any of these issues can contribute to postpartum depression.

Risk factors

Postpartum depression can develop after the birth of any child, not just the first. The risk increases if:

  • You have a history of depression, either during pregnancy or at other times
  • You have bipolar disorder
  • You had postpartum depression after a previous pregnancy
  • You have family members who've had depression or other mood stability problems
  • You've experienced stressful events during the past year, such as pregnancy complications, illness or job loss
  • Your baby has health problems or other special needs
  • You have difficulty breast-feeding
  • You're having problems in your relationship with your spouse or significant other
  • You have a weak support system
  • You have financial problems
  • The pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted

Complications

Left untreated, postpartum depression can interfere with mother-child bonding and cause family problems.

For mothers. Untreated postpartum depression can last for months or longer, sometimes becoming a chronic depressive disorder. Even when treated, postpartum depression increases a woman's risk of future episodes of major depression.

For fathers. Postpartum depression can have a ripple effect, causing emotional strain for everyone close to a new baby. When a new mother is depressed, the risk of depression in the baby's father may also increase. And new dads are already at increased risk of depression, whether or not their partner is affected.

For children. Children of mothers who have untreated postpartum depression are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems, such as sleeping and eating difficulties, excessive crying, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Delays in language development are more common as well.

Preparing for your appointment

After your first appointment, your doctor may refer you to a mental health provider who can create the right treatment plan for you. You may want to find a trusted family member or friend to join you for your appointment to help you remember all of the information discussed.

What you can do

Before your appointment, make a list of:

  • Any symptoms you've been experiencing and for how long
  • All of your medical issues, including physical conditions or mental health disorders, such as depression
  • All the medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as vitamins and other supplements, as well as their doses
  • Questions to ask your doctor

Questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is my diagnosis?
  • What treatments are likely to help me?
  • What are the possible side effects of the treatments you're proposing?
  • How much and how soon do you expect my symptoms to improve with treatment?
  • Is the medication you're prescribing safe to take while breast-feeding?
  • How long will I need to be treated?
  • What lifestyle changes can help me manage my symptoms?
  • How often should I be seen for follow-up visits?
  • Am I at increased risk of other mental health problems?
  • Am I at risk of this condition recurring if I have another baby?
  • Is there any way to prevent a recurrence if I have another baby?
  • Are there any printed materials that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions.

What to expect from your doctor

A doctor or mental health provider who sees you for possible postpartum depression may ask:

  • What are your symptoms, and when did they start?
  • Have your symptoms been getting better or worse over time?
  • Are your symptoms affecting your ability to care for your baby?
  • Do you feel as bonded to your baby as you expected?
  • Are you able to sleep when you have the chance and get out of bed when it's time to wake up?
  • How would you describe your energy level?
  • Has your appetite changed?
  • How often would you say you feel anxious, irritable or angry?
  • Have you had any thoughts of harming yourself or your baby?
  • How much support do you have in caring for your baby?
  • Are there other significant stressors in your life, such as financial or relationship problems?
  • Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with any mental health conditions, such as depression or bipolar disorder? If so, what type of treatment helped the most?

Tests and diagnosis

Your doctor will usually talk with you about your feelings, thoughts and mental health to distinguish between a short-term case of postpartum baby blues and a more severe form of depression. Don't be embarrassed. Share your symptoms with your doctor so that a useful treatment plan can be created for you.

As part of your evaluation, your doctor may:

  • Ask you to complete a depression-screening questionnaire
  • Order blood tests to determine whether an underactive thyroid is contributing to your signs and symptoms
  • Order other tests, if warranted, to rule out other causes for your symptoms

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, is often used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

Treatments and drugs

Treatment and recovery time vary, depending on the severity of your depression and your individual needs. If you have an underactive thyroid or an underlying illness, your doctor may treat those conditions or refer you to the appropriate specialist. Your doctor also may refer you to a mental health provider.

Baby blues

The baby blues usually fade on their own within a few days to one to two weeks. In the meantime:

  • Get as much rest as you can
  • Accept help from family and friends
  • Connect with other new moms
  • Create time to take care of yourself
  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs, which can make mood swings worse

Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is often treated with psychotherapy (also called talk therapy or mental health counseling), medication or both.

  • Psychotherapy. It may help to talk through your concerns with a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health provider. Through therapy, you can find better ways to cope with your feelings, solve problems, set realistic goals and respond to situations in a positive way. Sometimes family or relationship therapy also helps.
  • Antidepressants. Your doctor may recommend an antidepressant. If you're breast-feeding, any medication you take will enter your breast milk. However, some antidepressants can be used during breast-feeding with little risk of side effects for your baby. Work with your doctor to weigh the potential risks and benefits of specific antidepressants.

With appropriate treatment, postpartum depression usually goes away within six months. In some cases, postpartum depression lasts much longer, becoming chronic depression. It's important to continue treatment after you begin to feel better. Stopping treatment too early may lead to a relapse.

Postpartum psychosis

Postpartum psychosis requires immediate treatment, often in the hospital. Treatment may include:

Medication. When your safety is assured, a combination of medications — such as antidepressants, antipsychotic medications and mood stabilizers — may be used to control your signs and symptoms.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). If your postpartum depression is severe and does not respond to medication, ECT may be recommended. During ECT, a small amount of electrical current is applied to your brain to produce brain waves similar to those that occur during a seizure. The chemical changes triggered by the electrical currents can reduce the symptoms of psychosis and depression, especially when other treatments have failed.

Treatment for postpartum psychosis can challenge a mother's ability to breast-feed. Separation from the baby makes breast-feeding difficult, and some medications used to treat postpartum psychosis aren't recommended for women who are breast-feeding. If you're experiencing postpartum psychosis, your doctor can help you work through these challenges.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Postpartum depression isn't generally a condition that you can treat on your own — but you can do some things for yourself that build on your treatment plan and help speed recovery.

  • Make healthy lifestyle choices. Include physical activity, such as a walk with your baby, in your daily routine. Try to get adequate rest. Eat healthy foods and avoid alcohol.
  • Set realistic expectations. Don't pressure yourself to do everything. Scale back your expectations for the perfect household. Do what you can and leave the rest.
  • Make time for yourself. If you feel like the world is coming down around you, take some time for yourself. Get dressed, leave the house, and visit a friend or run an errand. Or schedule some time alone with your partner.
  • Avoid isolation. Talk with your partner, family and friends about how you're feeling. Ask other mothers about their experiences. Breaking the isolation may help you feel human again.
  • Ask for help. Try to open up to the people close to you and let them know you need help. If someone offers to baby-sit so you can take a break, take them up on it. If you can sleep, take a nap, or maybe you can catch a movie or meet for coffee with friends.

Remember, the best way to take care of your baby is to take care of yourself.

Coping and support

The already stressful, exhausting period following a baby's birth is more difficult when depression occurs. But remember, postpartum depression is never anyone's fault. It's a common medical condition that needs treatment.

So, if you're having trouble coping with postpartum depression, talk with a therapist. Ask your doctor or therapist about local support groups for new moms or women who have postpartum depression.

The sooner you get help, the sooner you'll be fully equipped to cope with depression and enjoy your new baby.

Prevention

If you have a history of depression — especially postpartum depression — tell your doctor if you're planning on becoming pregnant or as soon as you find out you're pregnant.

During pregnancy, your doctor can monitor you closely for signs and symptoms of depression. He or she may have you complete a depression-screening questionnaire during your pregnancy and after delivery. Sometimes mild depression can be managed with support groups, counseling or other therapies. In other cases, antidepressants may be recommended — even during pregnancy.

After your baby is born, your doctor may recommend an early postpartum checkup to screen for signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. The earlier it's detected, the earlier treatment can begin. If you have a history of postpartum depression, your doctor may recommend antidepressant treatment or psychotherapy immediately after delivery.
Source: www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/basics/risk-factors/con-20029130

Postpartum Depression Facts


With postpartum depression, feelings of sadness and anxiety can be extreme and might interfere with a woman’s ability to care for herself or her family.

What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. Mothers with postpartum depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that may make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or for others.

What causes postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression does not have a single cause, but likely results from a combination of physical and emotional factors. Postpartum depression does not occur because of something a mother does or does not do.

After childbirth, the levels of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in a woman’s body quickly drop. This leads to chemical changes in her brain that may trigger mood swings. In addition, many mothers are unable to get the rest they need to fully recover from giving birth. Constant sleep deprivation can lead to physical discomfort and exhaustion, which can contribute to the symptoms of postpartum depression.

What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?

Some of the more common symptoms a woman may experience include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed
  • Crying more often than usual or for no apparent reason
  • Worrying or feeling overly anxious
  • Feeling moody, irritable, or restless
  • Oversleeping, or being unable to sleep even when her baby is asleep
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Experiencing anger or rage
  • Losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
  • Suffering from physical aches and pains, including frequent headaches, stomach problems, and muscle pain
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family
  • Having trouble bonding or forming an emotional attachment with her baby
  • Persistently doubting her ability to care for her baby
  • Thinking about harming herself or her baby.

How can a woman tell if she has postpartum depression?

Only a health care provider can diagnose a woman with postpartum depression. Because symptoms of this condition are broad and may vary between women, a health care provider can help a woman figure out whether the symptoms she is feeling are due to postpartum depression or something else. A woman who experiences any of these symptoms should see a health care provider right away.

How is postpartum depression different from the “baby blues”?

The “baby blues” is a term used to describe the feelings of worry, unhappiness, and fatigue that many women experience after having a baby. Babies require a lot of care, so it’s normal for mothers to be worried about, or tired from, providing that care. Baby blues, which affects up to 80 percent of mothers, includes feelings that are somewhat mild, last a week or two, and go away on their own.

With postpartum depression, feelings of sadness and anxiety can be extreme and might interfere with a woman’s ability to care for herself or her family. Because of the severity of the symptoms, postpartum depression usually requires treatment. The condition, which occurs in nearly 15 percent of births, may begin shortly before or any time after childbirth, but commonly begins between a week and a month after delivery.

Are some women more likely to experience postpartum depression?

Some women are at greater risk for developing postpartum depression because they have one or more risk factors, such as:

  • Symptoms of depression during or after a previous pregnancy
  • Previous experience with depression or bipolar disorder at another time in her life
  • A family member who has been diagnosed with depression or other mental illness
  • A stressful life event during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth, such as job loss, death of a loved one, domestic violence, or personal illness
  • Medical complications during childbirth, including premature delivery or having a baby with medical problems
  • Mixed feelings about the pregnancy, whether it was planned or unplanned
  • A lack of strong emotional support from her spouse, partner, family, or friends
  • Alcohol or other drug abuse problems.

Postpartum depression can affect any woman regardless of age, race, ethnicity, or economic status.

How is postpartum depression treated?

There are effective treatments for postpartum depression. A woman’s health care provider can help her choose the best treatment, which may include:

  • Counseling/Talk Therapy: This treatment involves talking one-on-one with a mental health professional (a counselor, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker). Two types of counseling shown to be particularly effective in treating postpartum depression are:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps people recognize and change their negative thoughts and behaviors; and
  • Interpersonal therapy (IPT), which helps people understand and work through problematic personal relationships.
  • Medication: Antidepressant medications act on the brain chemicals that are involved in mood regulation. Many antidepressants take a few weeks to be most effective. While these medications are generally considered safe to use during breastfeeding, a woman should talk to her health care provider about the risks and benefits to both herself and her baby.

These treatment methods can be used alone or together.

What can happen if postpartum depression is left untreated?

Without treatment, postpartum depression can last for months or years. In addition to affecting the mother’s health, it can interfere with her ability to connect with and care for her baby and may cause the baby to have problems with sleeping, eating, and behavior as he or she grows.

How can family and friends help?

Family members and friends may be the first to recognize symptoms of postpartum depression in a new mother. They can encourage her to talk with a health care provider, offer emotional support, and assist with daily tasks such as caring for the baby or the home.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or thinking of suicide, get help quickly.

  • Call your doctor.
  • Call 911 for emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room.
  • Call the toll-free 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) or the Ccrisis Text Liine 741741

Where can I find more information?

For more information on conditions that affect mental health, resources, and research, go to MentalHealth.gov at www.mentalhealth.gov , or the NIMH website at www.nimh.nih.gov . In addition, the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus service has information on a wide variety of health topics, including conditions that affect mental health.

National Institute of Mental Health
Office of Science Policy, Planning, and Communications
Science Writing, Press, and Dissemination Branch
6001 Executive Boulevard
Room 6200, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892–9663
Phone: 301-443-4513 or 1-866-615-NIMH (6464) toll-free
TTY: 301-443-8431 or 1-866-415-8051 toll-free
Fax: 301-443-4279
Email:
nimhinfo@nih.gov
Website:
www.nimh.nih.gov

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
National Institutes of Health
NIH Publication No. 13-8000
Source: www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml

The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (in Plain Mama English)


What does it feel like to have postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety? What are the signs or symptoms? How do you know when you have it? And if you do have it, what should you do?

Below we will explain the signs of postpartum depression and anxiety, but in what we call “plain mama English.” We won’t use words like hypomania or dysthymia—the kind of confusing terms you might see elsewhere. We will use the words thousands of other moms have used who have already been through this. Words that make sense. After that, we’ll give you some links to some really helpful resources and information. You are not alone. Here at Postpartum Progress we understand and we’re happy to help.

When you read the two different symptoms lists below, one for postpartum depression and the one after it for postpartum anxiety and OCD, please remember a few very important things:

  • You may not be experiencing all of the symptoms listed below or even most of them. Postpartum depression and anxiety are not “one-size-fits-all” illnesses. Your experience may include just a few of the symptoms and you may not have others at all.
  • Many people have a feeling like the ones listed below every now and then, for a day or two. We all have bad days. Postpartum depression and anxiety are not just bad days. Women with PPD or anxiety have symptoms like these most of the time, for a period of at least 2 weeks or longer, and these symptoms make it feel very hard to live your life each day.
  • Postpartum depression and anxiety are sometimes “comorbid.” This means you can have a bit of both, or all of both. If you have symptoms on both lists, that’s not unusual.

Postpartum Depression Symptoms

Okay. Here we go. You may have postpartum depression if you have had a baby within the last 12 months and are experiencing some of these symptoms:

  • You feel overwhelmed. Not like “hey, this new mom thing is hard.” More like “I can’t do this and I’m never going to be able to do this.” You feel like you just can’t handle being a mother. In fact, you may be wondering whether you should have become a mother in the first place.
  • You feel guilty because you believe you should be handling new motherhood better than this. You feel like your baby deserves better. You worry whether your baby can tell that you feel so bad, or that you are crying so much, or that you don’t feel the happiness or connection that you thought you would. You may wonder whether your baby would be better off without you.
  • You don’t feel bonded to your baby. You’re not having that mythical mommy bliss that you see on TV or read about in magazines. Not everyone with postpartum depression feels this way, but many do.
  • You can’t understand why this is happening. You are very confused and scared.
  • You feel irritated or angry. You have no patience. Everything annoys you. You feel resentment toward your baby, or your partner, or your friends who don’t have babies. You feel out-of-control rage.
  • You feel nothing. Emptiness and numbness. You are just going through the motions.
  • You feel sadness to the depths of your soul. You can’t stop crying, even when there’s no real reason to be crying.
  • You feel hopeless, like this situation will never ever get better. You feel weak and defective, like a failure.
  • You can’t bring yourself to eat, or perhaps the only thing that makes you feel better is eating.
  • You can’t sleep when the baby sleeps, nor can you sleep at any other time. Or maybe you can fall asleep, but you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep no matter how tired you are. Or maybe all you can do is sleep and you can’t seem to stay awake to get the most basic things done. Whichever it is, your sleeping is completely screwed up and it’s not just because you have a newborn.
  • You can’t concentrate. You can’t focus. You can’t think of the words you want to say. You can’t remember what you were supposed to do. You can’t make a decision. You feel like you’re in a fog.
  • You feel disconnected. You feel strangely apart from everyone for some reason, like there’s an invisible wall between you and the rest of the world.
  • Maybe you’re doing everything right. You are exercising. You are taking your vitamins. You have a healthy spirituality. You do yoga. You’re thinking “Why can’t I just get over this?” You feel like you should be able to snap out of it, but you can’t.
  • You might be having thoughts of running away and leaving your family behind. Or you’ve thought of driving off the road, or taking too many pills, or finding some other way to end this misery.
  • You know something is wrong. You may not know you have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, but you know the way you are feeling is NOT right. You think you’ve “gone crazy.”
  • You are afraid that this is your new reality and that you’ve lost the “old you” forever.
  • You are afraid that if you reach out for help people will judge you. Or that your baby will be taken away.

Postpartum Anxiety & OCD

You may have postpartum anxiety or postpartum OCD if you have had a baby within the last 12 months and are experiencing some of these symptoms:

  • Your thoughts are racing. You can’t quiet your mind. You can’t settle down. You can’t relax.
  • You feel like you have to be doing something at all times. Cleaning bottles. Cleaning baby clothes. Cleaning the house. Doing work. Entertaining the baby. Checking on the baby.
  • You are worried. Really worried. All. The. Time. Am I doing this right? Will my husband come home from his trip? Will the baby wake up? Is the baby eating enough? Is there something wrong with my baby that I’m missing? No matter what anyone says to reassure you, it doesn’t help.
  • You may be having disturbing thoughts. Thoughts that you’ve never had before. Scary thoughts that make you wonder whether you aren’t the person you thought you were. They fly into your head unwanted and you know they aren’t right, that this isn’t the real you, but they terrify you and they won’t go away. These thoughts may start with the words “What if …”
  • You are afraid to be alone with your baby because of scary thoughts or worries. You are also afraid of things in your house that could potentially cause harm, like kitchen knives or stairs, and you avoid them like the plague.
  • You may feel the need to check things constantly. Did I lock the door? Did I lock the car? Did I turn off the oven? Is the baby breathing?
  • You may be having physical symptoms like stomach cramps or headaches, shakiness or nausea. You might even have panic attacks.
  • You feel like a captive animal, pacing back and forth in a cage. Restless. On edge.
  • You can’t eat. You have no appetite.
  • You’re having trouble sleeping. You are so, so tired, but you can’t sleep.
  • You feel a sense of dread, like something terrible is going to happen.
  • You know something is wrong. You may not know you have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, but you know the way you are feeling is NOT right. You think you’ve “gone crazy.”
  • You are afraid that this is your new reality and that you’ve lost the “old you” forever.
  • You are afraid that if you reach out for help people will judge you. Or that your baby will be taken away.

Now that you’ve gone through these lists, are you thinking, “How the heck does this lady know me? Is there a hidden camera in here?” Nope. What this should tell you is that you are not alone and you are not a freak and you are not highly unusual. If you are having these feelings and symptoms then it is possible you are experiencing common illnesses that 15 to 20% of new mothers have, and they are completely treatable. We’re happy to be here to support you.

Postpartum Depression Help

Postpartum Progress is a nonprofit created by moms for moms with maternal mental illness. We know what it’s like and we know how hard it is. Here are some of our best resources for moms with postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and related illnesses:

Other Things You Should Know

  • If you are pregnant and are having symptoms similar to those listed above, you should know that you aren’t unusual either. You may have depression or anxiety during pregnancy, which is just as common.
  • If you are having the symptoms listed above, call your doctor. There is no need to suffer alone. Don’t try to wait this out. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are temporary and treatable with professional help.
  • If you are already past the first year postpartum and still suffering, you could still have postpartum depression or anxiety. Perhaps you never reached out for help in the first year and you are still struggling. Call your doctor. You can still get help for this.
  • One last but very important thing: If you are having moments where it seems like you can see or hear things no one else does, if you are feeling paranoid as if others are out to get you, if you are feeling that you or your baby are somehow related to the devil or God in some way, or if you are having thoughts of harming yourself or others, it’s important to reach out for help right now. These symptoms require immediate attention as they could be signs of postpartum psychosis. If you have these symptoms, your illness has the potential to take over and lead you to do things that you wouldn’t normally do. In order to avoid that it is important to reach out for help right away so that trained professionals can help you get stabilized and healthy.

Source:  www.postpartumprogress.com/the-symptoms-of-postpartum-depression-anxiety-in-plain-mama-english

Adele's words about postpartum depression are profane, raw, and honest.


In the December issue of Vanity Fair , music icon Adele opened up about her own personal experience dealing with postpartum depression after her son's birth in October 2012.

 

Like many new moms dealing with postpartum depression, she didn't even realize that's what she was feeling at first.

"My knowledge of postpartum — or post-natal, as we call it in England — is that you don’t want to be with your child; you’re worried you might hurt your child; you’re worried you weren’t doing a good job. But I was obsessed with my child. I felt very inadequate; I felt like I’d made the worst decision of my life. ... It can come in many different forms."

An estimated 900,000 new mothers in the U.S. experience postpartum depression every year — and an alarmingly low 15% of these women actually receive treatment for it.

There's still a huge stigma surrounding postpartum depression (PPD), and a lot of misconceptions about what such a diagnosis means. Society places high expectations on mothers and motherhood, and women often feel guilty if they don't take to their new role naturally. This means that many new mothers are hesitant to admit if motherhood isn't everything they're told it should be.

For mothers experiencing postpartum depression, symptoms can range from unexplainable sadness to uncontrollable anger, and asking for help can feel like admitting you're a bad parent.

Adele said she was also reluctant to seek help, though eventually, she found comfort in talking to other new moms.

Of course, she described it to Vanity Fair in true Adele fashion — bluntly and with lots of raw emotion and f-bombs:

"I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I was very reluctant ... My boyfriend said I should talk to other women who were pregnant, and I said, 'F**k that, I ain’t hanging around with a f**kin' bunch of mothers.' Then, without realizing it, I was gravitating towards pregnant women and other women with children, because I found they’re a bit more patient."

Postpartum depression, of course, has many layers to it and presents differently in different people. But it was through these conversations with other mothers that Adele said she realized she wasn't alone.

"One day I said to a friend, 'I f**kin' hate this,' and she just burst into tears and said, 'I f**kin' hate this, too.' And it was done. It lifted."

By using her powerful voice to shine a light on the issue of postpartum depression, Adele is empowering mothers to recognize that they aren't alone and shouldn't be ashamed or afraid seek the help they need.

Too often, mothers are expected to sacrifice everything for their kids and to do so without complaining and at the expense of their own mental health. There's a lot of pressure on moms to be perfect and to be incredibly hard on themselves if they take any time away from their kids, especially when their kids are still young.

At the end of the day, you shouldn't need to justify what you need to feel good or to force yourself into a box of what you think a perfect mother looks like. The best way to take care of your kid and to be a great mom, especially if you're experiencing PPD, is to make sure you're taking care of yourself.

Which is exactly what Adele did:

"Eventually I just said, I'm going to give myself an afternoon a week, just to do whatever the f**k I want without my baby. A friend of mine said, 'Really? Don’t you feel bad?' I said, I do, but not as bad as I'd feel if I didn’t do it. Four of my friends felt the same way I did, and everyone was too embarrassed to talk about it; they thought everyone would think they were a bad mom, and it's not the case. It makes you a better mom if you give yourself a better time."

Source: postpartumprogress.org/the-facts-about-postpartum-depression/

Source: www.upworthy.com/adeles-words-about-postpartum-depression-are-profane-raw-and-honest?c=upw1&u=07fa0e7f2d23f338b4a3b29d16b2a71a4c4e496b

 
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