Bringing a baby into the world is usually a joyous occasion for all involved. It is typically a time of excitement and celebration for family, friends and everyone associated with the new parents. But for some new moms, the post-childbirth period is not so pleasant. In fact, roughly 10 to 15 percent of women struggle with severe depression after giving birth.
Beyond the “Baby Blues”
Most women experience emotional swings and intervals of moodiness, irritability, sadness and anxiety after having a baby. These periods are commonly referred to as the “baby blues,” and usually run their course within a week or two before the new mother adjusts her lifestyle and resumes a healthy outlook.
But if these and other symptoms such as tearfulness, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, constant worrying and depression persist for longer than several weeks, a more serious condition known as “postpartum depression” may exist. Postpartum depression falls into the mood disorders category and can be caused by a variety of physical, emotional and environmental factors. Genetics may also play a role.
Postpartum depression treatment is administered according to each patient’s specific needs and the severity of their case. Generally, treatment begins with psychotherapy in an attempt to uncover the underlying issues surrounding the patient’s condition. Psychotherapy is also conducted to assist patients in getting in touch with what they are feeling, to readjust negative thought patterns and to help them develop effective coping skills.
Antidepressant medications are also part of a postpartum depression treatment plan. But if the newborn is to be breast-fed, this area must be carefully considered and thoroughly discussed between the patient and their doctor to ensure the baby’s health and safety.
Postpartum depression can develop at any time during the first few months after childbirth. If a new mother’s depressive symptoms reach a point where it might be felt that help is needed, a mental health professional should be contacted immediately for guidance.
This blog is written and published by Lindner Center of HOPE.