Symptoms of Postpartum Depression In New Mothers
Postpartum depression is most common in women who have just given birth. It also is common in women who are in the first few weeks of postnatal care. The condition can be incredibly serious. Feelings of despair and being overwhelmed become noticeable shortly after birth.
Feelings of despair and being overwhelmed can take a large toll on the emotional wellbeing of mothers and family members. Dark thoughts can arise and crying can become a common occurrence in the days and weeks after birth.
The following list of causes and symptoms of postpartum depression aims to inform pregnant women what to look out. Sometimes feelings of anxiety or lower energy levels are perfectly normal after giving birth. However, they can become rooted as a more serious problem if left untreated. If left untreated, such problems can require therapy or anti depressants.
There’s no single cause of postpartum depression, but physical changes and emotional imbalances can play a role.
Physical changes: After childbirth, a dramatic drop in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in your body may contribute to postpartum depression. Other hormones may also drop quickly. This will see you feeling tired, sluggish and depressed.
Emotional issues: When you’re sleep deprived and overwhelmed, you will have trouble handling even small issues. You may be stressed about your ability to care for your newborn properly. You may feel less attractive, struggle with your sense of identity or feel that you’ve lost control over your life.
Regularly occurring thoughts regarding harm occurring to the baby are one symptom of postpartum depression. While these are definitely terrifying, there’s no need for too much concern if treatment is provided. These thoughts are perfectly normal when suffering from postpartum depression and should be treated as soon as they can.
Questioning if someone else would have been a better mother for the baby is another sign that postpartum depression is present. Breastfeeding problems are one root cause of postpartum depression and can lead to such described self-doubt. If breastfeeding is troublesome, rest assured – you and the baby will adapt to each other quickly. You will be able to maintain a healthy relationship as you grow together.
Other signs and symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Difficulty falling to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense flashes of anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame or guilt
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
These may last up to two weeks, sometimes longer if left untreated. It’s worth keeping in mind that feeling depressed is not a sign of character flaw or weakness. Instead, it’s simply a complication of giving birth.
Note that sometimes mood swings, anxiety, sadness and feeling overwhelmed are incredibly common in women who have just given birth. If relatively moderate in their strength, these symptoms can be classified as baby blues. It’s only when these symptoms last longer that you should seek medical advice. If your condition is beginning to interfere with your ability to care for the baby, call a doctor now.
Occurrence in Men
Postpartum depression can happen to fathers too. They may feel tired, sad or fatigued, be overwhelmed, experience anxiety or have changes in their usual eating and sleeping patterns. These are the same symptoms women feel during episodes of postpartum depression.
Tell your doctor if you’re planning on becoming pregnant if you have a history of depression.
During pregnancy, your doctor can monitor you closely for signs and symptoms of depression. She may have you complete a depression screening questionnaire during your pregnancy and after delivery. Sometimes mild depression can be managed with support groups, counselling or other therapies. In other cases, anti depressants may be recommended — even during pregnancy.
After your baby is born, your doctor may recommend an early postpartum checkup to screen for signs of postpartum depression. The earlier it’s detected, the earlier you can treat depression. If you have a history of postpartum depression, your doctor may recommend anti depressant treatment or psycho therapy immediately after delivery.
Contact A Professional
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, don’t be ashamed. It’s worth talking to your doctor or a mental health professional if any of your symptoms:
- Don’t fade after two weeks
- Become worse
- Make it hard for you to care for you baby
- Make it hard to complete regular tasks
- Include suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby.
If left untreated, postpartum depression can develop into postpartum psychosis or bipolar disorder. These are characterized by even worse mood swings, delusions and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Usually, a combination of counselling from a health care professional and increased sleep can help mothers work through their postpartum depression. Plenty of water and tea, outdoor time and support from family and friends go a long way in helping the symptoms. These methods of care enable mothers to quickly adapt to the new routine of having a baby.
Support from family and friends is the most important element in curing postpartum depression. In saying this, anti depressants may also be necessary depending on the severity of the condition. Exercise has been shown time and time again to assist in treating depression. A healthy diet will too go a long way towards physical and mental wellbeing.
Contact Dr Nicole for any questions or issues related to postpartum depression. Dr Nicole is an expert in women’s health and has been working in the field for two decades. Based in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, Dr Nicole caters to mothers of all ages who are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression.
If you’re in a medical emergency call 000 immediately. Otherwise, Dr Nicole’s practice is open from Monday to Friday 8:00-5:00pm to take all calls.
Book an appointment today if you’re planning to get pregnant or have just given birth. Dr Nicole will be happy to see you at your earliest availability. She can help you with your health and wellbeing during this sometimes stressful time.