Do you avoid holding and consoling your baby?
Do you have negative views of yourself as a mother?
Do you feel scared, panicked, anxious or worried for no reason?
Are you so unhappy that you find yourself crying?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone. You may be suffering from Post-Partum Depression or anxiety, and should contact your health care team for help and support.
What is Post-Partum Depression?
Post-Partum Depression usually begins during the first few weeks after giving birth, but can happen anytime during your baby’s first year. It’s a subtype of Major Depression and is diagnosed using the same criteria.
Signs and symptoms can vary, but are different from Postpartum Baby Blue Symptoms as noted below. In general, Post-Partum Depression involves intense and lasting symptoms that interfere with your ability to care for your baby and complete daily tasks.
|Sadness||Mood Swings||Appetite problems|
|Insomnia or excessive sleeping||Depressed mood or severe mood swings||Excessive crying|
|Difficulty bonding with baby||Intense irritability or anger||Overwhelming fatigue|
|Loss of focus||Social withdrawal||Fear Severe anxiety or panic attacks|
|Thoughts of death or suicide||Feeling worthless, shame, guilt||Reduced interest or pleasure in daily activities|
|Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby|
Seek professional help
The Center for Disease Control estimates 11-20% of women have postpartum depression symptoms every year. Women with a personal or family history of depression, or who have already experienced Post-Partum Depression, are at greater risk. Most women with Post-Partum Depression never seek professional help.
Research indicates that women who receive visits by public health nurses or midwives, peer phone support, and interpersonal psychotherapy consults are significantly less likely to develop Post-Partum Depression regardless of existing risk factors.
The therapeutic relationship is key.
It’s essential to feel comfortable with the professionals you confide in and receive counseling from. If you experience a strong rapport and trusting relationship with your counselor, you’re more likely to experience a positive outcome.
Post-partum depression therapy options
There are many forms of non-pharmacological therapies and support for women who experience Post-Partum Depression. Many women practice mind-body modalities (meditation, yoga, hypnosis, art therapy, Tai Chi etc.) as a way to alleviate symptoms and increase wellness. These techniques can lower stress levels and improve overall mood.
While the benefits of antidepressant medications (even while breastfeeding) often outweigh the risks, some women prefer not to expose themselves or their babies to medications. Either way, it is critical to seek some kind of psychotherapy to manage your symptoms.
The most detrimental thing a woman can do for herself, her baby, and her family is to allow her depression to go untreated. The right strategy and a collaborative approach can help detect and treat your symptoms so you can fully enjoy motherhood.