Postpartum Depression: What Every Mother Should Know Before It’s Too Late
According to “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” (Murkoff & Mazel, 2008), 60-80 percent of new moms experience postpartum depression, also known as the “baby blues,” after the birth of their child. Moms may feel unexpected sadness, irritability, and anxiousness and can experience episodes of crying several times throughout the day.
Thankfully, baby blues tends to fade after about a week or so for most moms. If you’re still feeling depressed after two weeks, or you feel like your symptoms have worsened, call your doctor immediately to set up an appointment to discuss the possibility of postpartum depression.
“Your Pregnancy & Birth” (The American College of Obstericans and Gynecologists, 2005) reports that about 10 percent of new moms are diagnosed with postpartum depression, that’s why it’s crucial that women seek appropriate treatment and counseling from their doctor. The symptoms of postpartum depression and postpartum sadness are very similar, yet much more intense. They include:
- Strong feelings of sadness or anger that come 1-2 months after birth
- Feelings of doubt, guilt, or helplessness that seem to worsen each week
- Thoughts of harming the baby
- Intense worry and concern about your baby
- Scary or bizarre thoughts that repeat in your mind
- Not being able to sleep, or sleeping most of the time
- Lack of interest in activities that you once enjoyed
- Lack of interest in or feelings for the baby
Birdie Gunyon Meyer, RN, MA, president of Postpartum Support International and coordinator of perinatal mood disorders at Clarian Women’s Services in Indianapolis, says that women’s experiences with postpartum depression vary, and it is unlikely that you will identify with all the above symptoms.
Depression among new moms can negatively affect a parent’s caregiving, material support, and nurturance, and is often associated with poor health and developmental outcomes for children of all ages, including prenatally. Depressed mothers are also more like to have poor parenting skills and to have negative interactions with their children.
Thankfully, postpartum depression is very treatable and early intervention is crucial for you, your baby, and your family’s health and wellbeing. Treatment choices include counseling, prescribing of antidepressant medication, or a combination of both. It is important that you are honest and upfront with your doctor when discussing your symptoms because it will aid in deciding what type of treatment is best for you.