Having a baby is a happy and exciting time for most new mothers. It is also a period of intense adjustment to the many changes that follow the birth of a child. These adjustments can make you feel sadness, fear, anger, or anxiety. Most new mothers have these feelings in a mild form called postpartum blues. Postpartum blues almost always go away in a few days.
About ten percent of new mothers have greater feelings of sadness, anger, and anxiety. This is called postpartum depression. Postpartum depression lasts longer than postpartum blues and often does not go away on its own. It can require counseling and treatment.
If you feel depressed after the birth of your baby, be on the lookout for the following signs. They may be a signal that you are developing postpartum depression and should get help.
If you, or someone you know, show any of these signs after childbirth, it is time to call your doctor for help. Your doctor can help you get the support, counseling, or medication you need to overcome your feelings of postpartum depression.
Because no two women are alike, it is difficult to pinpoint specific reasons for postpartum depression. Like most forms of depression, postpartum depression is the result of many body, mind, and lifestyle factors. This may be why some women have postpartum depression and others don't. Or why a woman may have postpartum depression with one pregnancy and not another.
Doctors believe that the many changes your body goes through after giving birth play a role in postpartum depression. Dropping levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone may trigger depression in the same way that much smaller changes in these hormone levels can trigger mood swings and tension before menstrual periods. Some women are more bothered by these changes than others.
Emotional factors can also play a role in postpartum depression. You may feel physically and mentally overwhelmed by your new responsibilities and may feel anxiety about the physical changes your body is going through.
If you are feeling depressed after the birth of your baby, there are things you can do to take care of yourself and your baby:
If your feelings of depression do not go away in a few weeks, or become overwhelming, call your doctor, or have your partner or a friend call your doctor. Your doctor can refer you to experts in treating postpartum depression. These experts will give you emotional support, help you sort through your feelings, and help you make positive changes in your life.
There are also hotlines and support groups for women with postpartum depression. Your doctor can provide you with the names, number, and web sites for these groups.