Seeing your baby for the first time can bring about a mix of emotions. Happiness, joy, excitement, a bit of fear and maybe, some anxiety are valid feelings especially after undergoing the pains of labor and birth. These waves of emotions will pass for some and everything will be back to normal again. For other mothers, it’s not that easy. Their worry and stress become so strong which will turn into depression – postpartum depression.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression (PPD)
After childbirth, the new mother will experience a condition called postpartum baby blues. It will not last for a long time, though, maybe a week or two at most. If the baby blues don’t go away after two weeks, it can be a more serious health disorder which can eventually lead to PPD. “Ten to twenty percent of women experience significant depressive symptoms after the birth of a child. Of these, 5 to 10% experience severe depressive symptoms, meaning that about 1% of women develop a severe depression after childbirth,” says Eugene Rubin, Ph.D.
Here are some signs of postpartum baby blues that goes away after a few days:
- Change in moods
- Being anxious
- Can’t focus
- Lack of appetite
- Sleep problems
If the mother will feel the above-mentioned signs for longer than two weeks and the feelings are intense or severe, then, it may be PPD. Here are other symptoms of PPD, aside from the ones already listed:
- Can’t feel that baby bond
- Isolating self from family and friends
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Excessive eating or not eating at all
- Fatigued all the time
- No energy to get up from bed or to move
- Angry all the time
- Fear of not being a good mother
- Guilty feelings
- Thinking that you’re worthless, hopeless or helpless
- Can’t seem to think well, plan, organize or make sound decisions
- Panic attacks
- Thinking about self-harming
- Contemplating suicide and/or death
“The experience of shame can interact with depression in important ways that can maintain or worsen the severity of clinical depression. Classically, the depressed person engages in behaviors that they aren’t proud of,” says Erin Mendoza, PsyD.
Postpartum depression is not a micro disorder. It is a real condition which can be critical for the person suffering from it when left untreated. If you are a mother who just gave birth and you’ve been experiencing the at least five of the signs and symptoms mentioned above for more than 15 days, then, you need to see a mental health care professional.
What to expect from your mental health care provider
Most of those who have been diagnosed with Postpartum Depression is recommended to do two things – seek continuous mental health treatment and to take antidepressants until cured.
For mental health treatment, psychotherapy or talk therapy are preferred. “Individual therapy can be helpful, but we found that when mothers are involved in therapy groups where they discuss their experience of depression with other mothers, that they feel validated, greater understanding and an increased sense of social support, according to women who have participated,” says Roseanne Clark, PhD. You go to a shrink and then talk about what makes you feel the way you feel. You can also opt for anonymous chat sessions if you don’t want a face to face encounter with your therapist.
As for medication, some antidepressants are harmless for those who are breastfeeding. Only a psychiatrist can prescribe these medicines for you and you must take it as directed. Consult with your mental health care provider on the side-effects of pills on you and your baby.