What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is depression that starts 2 weeks-1 year after having a child. (Though untreated, symptoms can linger longer than 1 year.) About 15% of women experience postpartum depression. While certainly hormonal/chemical changes that occur during pregnancy and delivery can affect mental health; women who adopt and new fathers can also experience postpartum depression.
What are the symptoms?
Postpartum depression is called "the smiling depression." Just because someone appears to be doing well does not mean they are feeling well on the inside. Symptoms may include crying and sadness, feeling guilt, anger, shame and hopelessness, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, lack of interest in the baby, lack of motivation, not feeling bonded with baby, and thoughts of harming self or the baby.
Why does it happen?
There are many, many risks factors that contribute to postpartum depression. Some include personal or family history of mood disorder, major life stressors (moving, new job, financial stress, marital stress), and complications in pregnancy, delivery, feeding, or health of the infant, including NICU stay.
What is the treatment?
PPD is a very treatable condition. Talk therapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, has shown to be effective in treating PPD. Medication may be utilized. Other things that can help improve mood are light exercise, eating healthy, getting fresh air every day, and allowing others to help with baby to get more sleep at night.
Please know: You are not alone! You will not feel this way forever! The sooner you start treatment, the sooner you will feel better.