Postpartum depression is a serious medical condition that can make you feel hopeless or sad for no particular reason. It usually occurs within the first few months after you have given birth, although it can also happen after a stillbirth or miscarriage.
Postpartum Depression Compared to the Baby Blues
Postpartum depression is often confused with the “baby blues,” which usually only lasts a few weeks after childbirth. Many new mothers experience drastic mood swings and usually feel like they are overwhelmed by all of their new responsibilities. It is completely normal and safe, as long as it only lasts a few weeks.
The difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression is the severity of the symptoms and how long it lasts. Postpartum depression is more frequent and usually makes it difficult for the new mom to care and bond with their baby. It will also last for months instead of weeks.
In extremely severe cases, woman may experience postpartum psychosis. This can cause frightening delusions and dangerous behavior. It is absolutely necessary that new moms have a support system and they immediately visit a physician if they are experiencing any of the signs of postpartum depression. An experienced family physician, gynecologist, or psychiatrist will be able to diagnosis whether or not it is severe enough to be considered postpartum psychosis.
The Cause of Postpartum Depression
There is no specific medical reason why some women will experience postpartum depression while others will only get a mild case of the baby blues. It may have to do with how tough the pregnancy or childbirth was on the mother, how often the baby cries, how often the mother sleeps, or how much support is given to the mother. It could also be based on how their body handles the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and childbirth.
Are You Suffering from Postpartum Depression?
There is no way to know for certain what causes postpartum depression, but it is important to identify the severity of it and learn to cope with how you are feeling. Once you know that it is affecting you, you will be able to try different coping mechanisms so it doesn’t interfere with spending time with your precious new baby.
Coping with Postpartum Depression
The first step is accepting that you are having trouble controlling your emotions or that you are feeling overwhelmed. Admit it to yourself and to your support system. New moms should never hesitate to ask their spouse and/or family to help out more during those challenging first few months. Make sure to also mention it to your physician, gynecologist, or psychiatrist.
New mothers often feel like they need to spend every moment with their child. They will stop participating in their own hobbies and they may even isolate themselves from social groups. Ask your support system for 20 to 30 minutes a day of personal time whenever it is possible. This time should be spent relaxing, having fun, or exercising. All of those activities will help re-energize you mentally and physically.
Another way to cope with postpartum depression is talking with other moms about how you are feeling. You will be less likely to become depressed once you realize that you are not alone. Being a mom will never be easy, and postpartum depression can make it even more difficult. If you think you could be suffering from postpartum depression, make sure to talk to someone about it.