As a new mom who just gave birth, you face a great amount of challenges adjusting to your new life caring for a newborn. As a new mother you also must adjust to lack of sleep and the great amount of new responsibilities to feed and care for your newborn.
It can be normal to experience “baby blues” that typically go away after a few weeks. But in some cases, mothers of newborns can experience deep emotional pain after giving birth. This deep sorrow is called postpartum depression, and it is a severe form of clinical depression. While about 50% to 85% of women experience “baby blues”, it is said that 10% to 15% of women experience postpartum depression. In this post, we will explain what postpartum depression is and share postpartum depression treatment options.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a severe form of clinical depression that can affect women anywhere from a few weeks to a year after giving birth, but occurs most commonly within the first 3 months after giving birth.
Indicators of Postpartum Depression
While it is not possible to know who exactly will get postpartum depression after giving birth, Cheryl Beck created the Postpartum Depression Predictors Inventory, which lists out 13 variables that may be used to identify women at risk of getting postpartum depression during or after pregnancy. These ten indicators have shown to be reliable predictors of postpartum depression. These include:
- Prenatal depression
- Prenatal anxiety
- Recent stressful life events
- History of depression
- Maternity blues (especially when severe)
- Not enough social support
- Dissatisfied marital relationship
- Poor self-esteem
- Stress from childcare
- Infant temperament is difficult to handle
These additional three factors were shown to be less predictive but still arise consistently:
- Low socioeconomic status
- Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
- Single marital status
If you’re experiencing any of the above factors, particularly if you endorse more than one of these indicators, we suggest you reach out to a mental health professional.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
While not every woman with postpartum depression experiences the same things, here are some common symptoms you can look out for:
- Feeling a loss of hope, sadness, and feelings of despair
- Feeling unable to do basic chores or care for your baby
- Chronic episodes of crying, sometimes for no apparent reason
- Trouble “bonding” with your baby
- You’re having trouble learning, remembering things, or focusing
- You have less or no interest in food, sex, and other things you used to enjoy
- You’re sleeping too much
If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms after giving birth, we recommend that you reach out to a mental health professional. It’s better to be proactive than reactive.
In rare cases, women with postpartum depression can develop psychosis where they have thoughts of harming the baby, their other children, or themselves. This is a clinical emergency and must be treated immediately. If you are experiencing such thoughts, you must take yourself to the emergency room immediately and let someone know that you need help caring for your children.
Treating Postpartum Depression
While resources like this can be helpful to educate, only a trained medical professional can properly diagnose you with postpartum depression. However, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, we urge you to speak to a medical professional. If you are diagnosed with this clinical form of depression, don’t give up. There are treatments that will get you back to being your best self again.
Speaking to a psychologist can greatly help you overcome this mental illness. Psychologists and therapists can teach you ways to recognize when negative thoughts come about so that you can better deal with them.
While counseling is an extremely powerful tool for treating depression, some doctors may choose to prescribe medication, such as antidepressants.
While we strongly urge you to get professional help, there are some things you can do too to help you feel better as you work through your postpartum depression. These things include:
- Surrounding yourself with people who love you
- Doing fun things in your day
- Exercising daily
- Eating healthy
- Setting simple goals that you can accomplish
In this post we’ve reviewed postpartum depression, a serious form of depression. In rare cases, a person with postpartum depression can also get postpartum psychosis. This is a medical emergency, and your symptoms will be more severe than postpartum depression alone. Some of those symptoms include:
- Not be able to sleep
- Feeling confused and not being able to think clearly
- You have fearful or obsessive thoughts about your bbay
- You refuse to eat anything
- You have delusions and hallucinations which are making you see things that aren’t there
- You are extremely paranoid and suspicious of people
- You have thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
In the case of postpartum psychosis, please call 911 as soon as possible as it is a medical emergency.
Get Postpartum Depression Treatment in Miami
If you are seeking postpartum depression treatment, you’re already taking the first step to recovery. While this is a frightening disorder, you’re not alone in this fight.
While recovery is a process, I have dedicated my life to helping individuals overcome mental health disorders. Please reach out to me to discuss how we can work towards your freedom from postpartum depression.
I look forward to helping you obtain a brighter tomorrow.
I’m Dr. Amy Boyers, a Clinical Psychologist in Miami who specializes in eating disorder treatment (all types including anorexia treatment, bulimia treatment, and binge eating treatment) and other long term conditions, including addictions, bipolar, and OCD. I offer personalized and sophisticated eating disorder treatment services, individual and family psychotherapy, family member support and education, in-home meal support, cognitive behavioral therapy, anxiety treatment, depression treatment, and much more.
I look forward to helping you obtain a brighter tomorrow.