Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a period of depression that a mother experiences after giving birth. It usually develops within the first few weeks after delivery. This type of depression can affect any new mother regardless of her social or economic background.

Postpartum depression is caused by dramatic hormonal shifts in the body that occur during and after childbirth. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of all new mothers experience postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can last from weeks to months and even in some cases years. It is important to recognize the symptoms and get help from a medical professional.

Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

The most common signs and symptoms of postpartum depression may include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Inability to bond with the baby
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Inability to sleep
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Lack of interest in activities and pleasure that were once enjoyed

Diagnosing Postpartum Depression

If you or a loved one are exhibiting any of the above symptoms, it is important to seek medical help. A physician will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate course of treatment.

The diagnosis of postpartum depression is based on a clinical interview and physical evaluation. The doctor will assess any physical symptoms as well as asking questions about thoughts, feelings, and behavior to evaluate mood and day-to-day functioning.

Treatment for Postpartum Depression

Treatment for postpartum depression can include:

  • Counseling or psychotherapy
  • Antidepressant medication
  • Support groups
  • Lifestyle changes such as increased exercise and relaxation techniques

When postpartum depression is treated, the chance of a full recovery is greatly increased. It is important to remember that postpartum depression is common and does not mean that you are a bad mother. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.