Don’t be Ashamed if You’re Suffering from Postpartum Depression
You’ve just had a baby! After your initial feelings of excitement and happiness you become exhausted because you haven’t slept in days. You feel hopeless, guilty and sad and are having crying spells every day. You’re starting to feel ashamed that you’re struggling. Don’t be! Postpartum depression (PPD) is more common than you think. An estimated 10% of patients will experience postpartum depression so you are not alone.
PPD is different from the post-partum blues. The post-partum blues tend to occur within the first 2-3 days of delivery. The symptoms include being moody, irritable or anxious, having trouble concentrating or sleeping or having crying spells. These symptoms generally resolve within 2 weeks of symptom onset.
PPD has similar symptoms but they are more severe and generally last longer than 2 weeks. Risk factors include prior history of PPD, a history of depression/anxiety not associated with pregnancy or stressful life events. Some women are more genetically susceptible and many times it is associated with the hormonal changes of pregnancy. It is possible to develop the condition without having any risk factors at all!
How do you know if you have it?
The most common symptoms include:
- Anxiety about the health of the infant
- Concern about one’s ability to care for the infant
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness or guilt for at least two weeks
- Lack of interest in the infant’s activities
- Lack of response to support and reassurance
- Using alcohol, illicit drugs or tobacco
- Change in appetite, weight gain/loss, loss of desire in sex
Your OBGYN should screen you for postpartum depression at your postpartum visit. Most commonly, a survey called the Edinburgh Post-natal Depression Screen is used to assess your symptoms.
How is this treated?
PPD can be treated two separate ways. The first is with medication and the second is by talking to a therapist (such as a psychologist, psychologist or social worker.)
If you ever feel like hurting yourself, your baby or another individual, please let a health care professional know as soon as possible. You can also call for an ambulance (by calling 911), go to the Emergency Room at your local hospital or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.