Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Postpartum Depression is a common illness and the most common complication of child birth, affecting 1 out of 8 women. Postpartum depression can occur at any time within the first year after delivery. Women often suffer in silence because they do not recognize the signs of PPD. PPD is not the fault of the woman, a sign of weakness or a character flaw but a medical illness that requires treatment.
Some signs of PPD are:
- Anxiety, irritability or restlessness
- Difficulty sleeping even when there is opportunity, or wanting to sleep all the time
- Eating too much or too little
- Having trouble with concentration and decision making
- Frequent crying and feelings of sadness
- Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Lack of motivation or energy to do things
- Feelings of inadequacy and guilt
- Loss of pleasure or interest (sometimes in the baby causing poor bonding)
- Obsessional thoughts about the baby, including thoughts about harming the baby
- Feeling like life isn’t worth living
- Having suicidal thoughts
- Experiencing depression during pregnancy is equally as common; depression during both of these times is collectively called perinatal depression. Most often it is undiagnosed and, if left untreated, can cause serious consequences for mother and baby.
So, what about the “Baby Blues”? Experiencing sadness, anxiety, having trouble concentrating or difficulty sleeping, worrying and feeling emotional are all normal reactions that may begin within the first few days after delivery. Usually these reactions resolve in 1-2 weeks and do not require treatment. If, however, these feeling persist or worsen it may be a sign of something more serious, so talk to your doctor or healthcare provider.
What is Postpartum Psychosis? Although this is a less common illness, it is more severe and usually begins within a few days of delivery. Postpartum Psychosis involves feelings of agitation, severe confusion, inability to sleep, distrust of others, hearing voices or seeing things that are not there, inability to eat, strange thoughts or beliefs that include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby and requires emergency treatment.
If you think you may have Postpartum or Perinatal Depression please seek professional help. Your healthcare provider can refer you to a mental health professional who has experience with PPD. The two main types of treatment are counseling and medication. For moderate to severe depression, medication is often needed along with counseling. There are significant risks to you and your baby if this is left untreated.
Remember: PPD is not your fault; it is an illness. You are not alone; 1 in 8 women develop PPD. There is help if you recognize the signs and ask for it. You will get better; treatment is very effective.
Please visit the useful links page for more PPD resources.