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Postpartum Depression. The Symptoms to Look for and How to Get Help

For too long, women have faced a stigma associated with postpartum depression. Bringing a new baby into the world is one of the most amazing, and thrilling accomplishments a woman will achieve in her lifetime. The world expects new mothers to radiantly glow from happiness, which is why the idea that new mothers could suffer from a form of depression after giving birth seems incomprehensible, and leaves many women lacking the ability to feel they can talk openly about their symptoms, and actively seek help.

If you or someone you love may be experiencing the symptoms of postpartum depression, know that you are not alone. Your feelings are legitimate and explainable, and help is available.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is a perinatal mood disorder that affects women after they give birth. Women can begin to experience initial symptoms at any point within the first year after birth, though most report the onset of symptoms during the first three weeks after baby is born. Postpartum depression can affect first time moms, as well as women who have already given birth without experiencing symptoms after previous pregnancies.

Causes of Postpartum Depression

There are several factors that could cause postpartum depression, including:

  • Hormones – When pregnant, levels of certain hormones spike in your body. After your baby arrives, those hormone levels suddenly decrease, which can trigger feelings of depression.
  • A Personal or Family History – Women with a personal or family history of depression may be more susceptible to postpartum depression.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Symptoms of postpartum depression vary, but may include any of the following:

  • Feelings of being overwhelmed that are so severe, it makes it difficult to accomplish daily responsibilities.
  • Burdensome feelings of guilt that you are not innately a better mom for your newborn.
  • Unexplained sadness. You may experience unexpected and unprovoked periods of crying for what feels like no reason at all. You may even feel too sad to eat.
  • A sense of void or emptiness, as if you feel nothing at all, and not the overwhelming happiness you feel you should be experiencing as the mother of a newborn.
  • You may find it difficult to sleep either when the baby sleeps, or at nighttime. As an alternative, you may only want to sleep, and may find it difficult to get out of bed or attend to your baby in the middle of the night.
  • Resentment toward your baby or other members of your family that can cause emotional strains on the relationships in your life.
  • A fear that you are not more naturally connected to your baby that interferes with your desire to actively bond with him or her.
  • Regular feelings of irritation, or unexpected flares of anger. You may feel like your patience is non-existent, and that everyone and every little thing annoys you.
  • A hopelessness that your experience as a mother will never get better, and that you will always feel the anger, fear, sadness, and resentment that has come on so unexpectedly.

Getting Help

The most important thing you should know is that you’re not alone, and that your feelings are caused by an explainable medical condition. The way you feel is not your fault, and it’s not a sign that you are an unqualified, or unfit mother.

If you or someone you love may be experiencing postpartum depression, contact the healthcare experts at Horizon Health Services today. Horizon Health Services offers women-centered care at Sister’s Hospital that is specifically designed for women dealing with postpartum depression, and/or postpartum mood disorders.

For more information, please call our Patient Support Specialists at 716-831-1800.