What is Postpartum Depression?
With postpartum depression, a woman may feel extremely anxious, sad, or in despair which prevents her from completing routine daily tasks.
When does it occur?
Postpartum depression usually begins 1-3 weeks after childbirth. However, it can occur anytime within the year after having a baby.
What causes postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is likely caused by a combination of factors such as:
- Fatigue – childbirth, including birth by cesarean section, can be very fatiguing for a woman and it may take weeks to regain her energy and strength.
- Hormone changes – Sharp decreases in progesterone and estrogen levels soon after giving birth may cause postpartum depression.
- Lifestyle and social supports – Recent stressful events such as a major move or the death or serious illness of a loved one as well as lack of personal support can trigger postpartum depression.
- Emotional factors – It’s common to have doubts about being a parent and caring for a new baby. An unplanned pregnancy or a sick hospitalized baby can further add to a woman’s stress levels.
- Previous history of depression – The risk of postpartum depression is greater for women who’ve had and/or been treated for depression before, during, or after childbirth.
How is postpartum depression different from the baby blues?
Approximately 80% of new mothers experience what’s commonly called “the baby blues” 2-3 weeks after childbirth that may include weepiness and mood swings. This is a normal adjustment period that resolves without any medical intervention.
If I think I have postpartum depression, when should I see my obstetrician/ gynecologist?
As soon as possible. Do not wait until your postpartum checkup.
How is postpartum depression treated?
Treatment is unique to each woman and the symptoms she is experiencing.
Talk therapy, support groups, lifestyle changes including self-care, diet changes, relaxation, natural remedies, spiritual support or practice, exercise, and personal time with a partner or spouse may all help reduce symptoms. Sometimes treatment with antidepressants or other medications may be recommended as well.
What are antidepressants?
Antidepressants are medications used to treat mood disorders by balancing brain chemicals.
Do antidepressants cause side effects?
Yes but most are temporary and go away shortly. If you have unusual or severe side effects contact your OBGYN. You may need to switch medications. If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, contact your healthcare provider right away.
What are the types of talk therapy?
There are different types of talk therapy to help meet your unique needs and preferences.
In one-on-one therapy, you meet by yourself to talk with a therapist. In group therapy, you join a group of people with similar problems and a therapist helps the entire group. In couples or family counseling, you and your partner or you and your family meet to talk with a therapist.
Some people feel more comfortable with one type of therapy than another so it’s important to choose what you’re most comfortable with.
What if I have a history of depression?
Talk to your OBGYN about your history with depression. The treatment approach may be different and they will be able to help you early on.
Each woman’s experience with postpartum depression is unique. Your treatment will depend on the symptoms you’re experiencing and what your OBGYN thinks is best after talking with you.
Postpartum depression can make you feel isolated and alone. Here at COOB Women’s Health, we want you to know you’re not alone and we can help. Contact us today to make an appointment with your OBGYN so we can help you start feeling better soon.