Postpartum Depression

Having a baby can be exciting and overwhelming. Postpartum depression is the most common complication of childbirth. It affects about 1 in 8 women and is very treatable.

Baby Blues

You may also have heard about the baby blues. Baby blues are very common. Up to 4 out of 5 women have baby blues. With help and support, you can feel like yourself again. Baby blues symptoms include:

  • Feeling irritable, restless, or anxious
  • Crying
  • Feeling dependent and/or lonely

Symptoms of Baby Blues

These symptoms usually occur shortly after birth and can last up to 3 weeks. Things that help with the symptoms include:

  • Napping when the baby is napping
  • Eating nutritious snacks and meals
  • Mild exercise such as taking a short walk.

If symptoms interfere with your life or last longer than 2 to 3 weeks, you may have postpartum depression. If these symptoms persist, you may want to see your health care provider.

Postpartum Depression

It is easy to confuse the symptoms of postpartum depression with baby blues. Postpartum depression can occur anytime during your pregnancy up until one year after birth.

How Do You Know if You Have Postpartum Depression?

If you think you have postpartum depression, watch for these symptoms:

  • Feeling sad, anxious or “empty”
  • Lack of energy or feeling very tired
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Changes in sleeping or not being able to sleep even though the baby is sleeping
  • Appetite changes, weight loss or weight gain
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, guilty or worthless
  • Feeling moody and irritable
  • Problems concentrating or making simple decisions
  • Withdrawal from friends or family (over)

Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is very rare and is a medical emergency that needs medical help right away. Some signs include:

  • Hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there
  • Feeling like harming yourself, your baby or others

Call your health care provider right away if you have any of the above symptoms.

Things You Can Do to Help Your Depression

Being a good mom means taking care of yourself. If you take care of yourself, you can take better care of your baby and your family.

  • Get help. Talk with your care provider.
  • Ask your care provider about medicines that can be safely used for postpartum depression.
  • Talk to a therapist, alone or in group therapy.
  • Attend a support group.
  • Ask your faith or community leaders about other support resources.
  • Learn as much as you can about postpartum depression.
  • Get support from family and friends. Ask for help when you need it.
  • Keep active by walking, stretching, swimming and so on.
  • Get enough rest.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Don’t give up! It may take more than one try to get the help you need.

Have Depression Before Pregnancy?

Women who have a history of depression are more likely to become depressed during pregnancy or after birth. Depression can be caused by stress, hormone changes, trauma, lack of support and other factors. If you are depressed, you need to get help. It will not get better on its own. Talk to your provider or a therapist.