Health One Family Medicine

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Many women experience baby blues after giving birth. This involves feeling anxious, sad, and overwhelmed. You can also have mood swings, cry for no reason, and lose your appetite. For most women, these symptoms go away after a few days. In other cases, you can develop long-lasting depression. This is called postpartum depression. Nearly 15% of women are known to suffer from this condition. Let us take a look at the symptoms, causes, and treatment of postpartum depression.

Causes of Postpartum Depression

The cause of postpartum depression is not known. It is believed to be attributed to the rapid drop of estrogen and progesterone levels (reproductive hormones) once you give birth. During pregnancy, these hormones increase tenfold. After you give birth, they drop back to their normal level. This decline in hormone levels can result in depression. Besides the chemical changes that occur, you also experience certain emotional, physical, psychological, and social changes after having a baby. This can increase the risk of postpartum depression.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

The symptoms of postpartum depression can vary from one individual to the next. Some typical symptoms include:

  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling anxious, hopeless, guilty, scared, worthless, or panicked
  • Getting irritated quickly and experiencing mood swings
  • Feeling overly concerned with the baby’s health and feeding
  • Feeling a sense of disinterest in performing day-to-day activities
  • Repeatedly thinking about suicide and death
  • Thinking of harming yourself and the baby

Some of these symptoms may be normal (irritability or sleeplessness, etc.). The diagnosis of postpartum depression depends on the intensity of these symptoms, as well as how long they last. For example, if you feel continued lack of interest in doing anything for two weeks or more, this may indicate postpartum depression.

Risk Factors of Postpartum Depression

Some factors that may put you at an increased risk of suffering from postpartum depression include:

  • Having mixed feelings about the pregnancy
  • Receiving inadequate social support during or after pregnancy
  • Conflicts with your spouse
  • Having a family history of Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) or depression
  • Experiencing depression while pregnant

Treatment of Postpartum Depression

The treatment of postpartum depression depends on the severity of your symptoms. Research has shown that providing psychological and supportive care to women after they give birth can reduce the risk of postpartum depression. The mother must not feel isolated or devoid of emotional support. This can be provided through home visits, interpersonal therapy, and talking to friends and family. New mothers can also consider joining support groups to seek help.

To Sum It Up

Up to 15% of women can suffer from postpartum depression after giving birth. Many women do not realize they are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression. In other cases, they may feel ashamed of what they are feeling and avoid seeking help. Obstetricians need to make a point of screening all new mothers for this condition. Early diagnosis is critical in the prevention and treatment of postpartum depression.

If you require further guidance on postpartum depression, you can make an appointment with a physician at Health One Family Medicine.

Visit or call (469)262-5762.