Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression usually occurs within the first 3 months after delivery. The exact causes of postpartum depression are unknown.  Changes in hormone levels during and after pregnancy may affect a woman’s mood.  Many non-hormonal factors may also affect mood during pregnancy.

Changes in work and social relationships:

  • Having less time and freedom
  • Lack of sleep
  • Worries about your ability to be a good mother

The chances of postpartum depression increase if the woman:

  • Is under age 20
  • Currently abuses alcohol, illegal substances or smokes
  • Did not plan the pregnancy or had mixed feeling about the pregnancy
  • Had a stressful event during the pregnancy or delivery
  • Has a close family member who has had depression or anxiety
  • Has a poor relationship with the significant other
  • Has money or housing problems
  • Has little support from family, friends or spouse or partner.

Symptoms of postpartum depression are like symptoms of depression:

  • Agitation or irritability
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Feelings of withdrawal
  • Lack of pleasure or interest in most or all activities
  • Loss of concentration
  • Loss of energy
  • Problems doing tasks at home or work
  • Significant anxiety
  • Thought of death or suicide

A mother of postpartum depression may also:

  • Be unable to care for herself or her baby
  • Be afraid to be alone with her baby
  • Have negative feelings toward the baby or even think about harming the baby

Treatment of postpartum depression should come from the physician or nurse.

  • Ask your partner, family, and friends for help with the baby’s needs and in the home
  • Don’t hide your feelings. Talk about them with your partner, family and friends
  • Don’t make any major life changes during pregnancy or just after giving birth
  • Don’t try to do too much or to be perfect
  • Take time out, visit friends, or spend time alone with your partner
  • Rest as much as you can. Sleep when the baby is sleeping.

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