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Baby blues vs. postpartum depression

Mother With Baby Suffering From Post Natal DepressionExcitement. Anticipation. Joy. These are common emotions experienced during pregnancy and after the birth of a baby. But mothers may also feel overwhelmed, anxious and even angry. Pregnancy is not easy and caring for an infant is hard work. No matter how much a new mother prepares for this event, there are often some unexpected feelings that surface. Any woman who is pregnant or has recently given birth can be affected, regardless of how many previous, uncomplicated pregnancies she has had.

It is helpful for a woman and her family to be able to distinguish between the “baby blues” – which are very common and usually disappear in a few weeks after the baby’s birth – and depression, which can often linger and worsen.

The top 10 signs of postpartum depression include:

  1. Change in appetite, either an increase or a decrease. (Weight loss or gain.)
  2. Change in sleep, whether you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep, or you want to sleep all the time.
  3. Anxiety, agitation or irritability, including worrying constantly about your baby or being fearful of leaving the house or visiting public places.
  4. Decrease in energy, concentration, or ability to accomplish tasks. This can include having trouble getting up, out of bed, and going in the morning.
  5. Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed.
  6. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness, or worrying that you’re not a good parent.
  7. Inability to care for yourself or your baby.
  8. Complete lack of libido. (After a reasonable amount of time and after your body has healed from giving birth or having a c-section.)
  9. Negative feelings towards or disinterest in your baby.
  10. Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.

The first month postpartum is a critical bonding time for mothers and their babies. But if a mother is experiencing difficulty, she might not be taking proper care of herself or her baby. She might not be eating properly or might be drinking or smoking too much, which can affect her health and her baby’s health, especially if she’s nursing.

Horizon offers support for women who are experiencing any of the symptoms of depression. We can help thoroughly evaluate her and determine a strategy to help her deal with depression. We can then help her work to overcome this condition. Treatment can range from counseling to medication to a combination of both. (Contrary to popular belief, anti-depression medication can be used safely during and after pregnancy and, often, the benefits far outweigh the risks.)

Most women have never experienced anything like this and either don’t know how to verbalize their feelings or have difficulty admitting what they’re going through.  Our goal is to get the word out that our treatment program works and to help put the joy back into this very special time for new mothers.

For more information on how Horizon can help new mothers deal with depression, please call admissions at 716.831.1800.