It’s normal to feel discouraged at times after having a baby. Lack of sleep, getting used to baby’s schedule, learning what he or she needs and when, and staying organized can all make even the most together woman feel less-than. Often called the “baby blues,” feelings of inadequacy and discouragement typically lessen and disappear after a few weeks. But when fatigue and lack of interest in anything, including your new baby, persists and worsens, postpartum depression may be the cause.
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of extreme sadness and exhaustion, often to the point of not being able to carry out basic daily tasks, including caring for yourself or your baby.1
The Mayo Clinic suggests the causes of postpartum depression are both physical and emotional. These include:
- A dramatic drop in estrogen, progesterone and other hormones produced by the thyroid gland
- Feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility of motherhood while also suffering from sleep deprivation
- Anxiety about your ability to care for your newborn
- Feeling unattractive as your body recovers from pregnancy and childbirth
- Feeling that you’ve somehow lost control of your life1
A combination of factors can increase a woman’s risk for PPD, such as:
- Emotional stress right before or during a pregnancy, like the loss of a loved one, marital strain, financial hardship or job loss
- Dealing with a more serious form of mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, at some point in life
- Family or personal history of PPD
- A history of domestic violence or sexual abuse
- A traumatic childhood, such as loss of a parent or a strained relationship with parents
- Lack of support after bringing baby home 2
Talk to your doctor and other women in your family about your risk of developing PDD so you can recognize the warning signs.
PPD Signs and Symptoms
Depressive disorders can be as unique as the people who struggle with them. But there are some symptoms common to most cases of PPD.
Watch for the following signs before the condition gets worse or becomes dangerous:
- “Baby blues” that don’t get better after two weeks
- Thoughts consumed with sadness or guilt
- Loss of interest in the things you enjoy
- Excessive worry about being a good mother
- An inability to rest or sleep when your baby is sleeping
- The inability to bond with your baby
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Any one of these symptoms of PDD can be a signal that you need professional help to get back on the right track. If you or someone you love has thoughts of self-harm or suicide, call 911 right away.
The Face of Postpartum Depression
If you’ve ever struggled with depression of any kind, you know it’s easy to feel isolated. The same is true for postpartum depression. That’s why celebrities who’ve experienced PPD are speaking out about the disorder in the hopes of helping women recognize the signs and get treatment.
Model and author Chrissy Teigen spoke to Self Magazine about her experience with postpartum depression.
“I knew that I had an incredible life, and an incredible husband, and family, and all the resources necessary, and I knew that I was personally unhappy, but I didn’t think anything was wrong with it because I just assumed that that’s the way it was,” she said.3
Tennis star Serena Williams experienced something similar.
“I think people need to talk about it more because it’s almost like the fourth trimester; it’s part of the pregnancy,” she said in a Baltimore Sun report. “I remember one day, I couldn’t find Olympia’s bottle and I got so upset I started crying … because I wanted to be perfect for her.”4
One in seven women will experience postpartum depression after pregnancy.5 Shining a light on this disorder can make it easier to ask for help. Share this article with someone you know.
Preparing for Baby and Postpartum Depression
Although there’s no way to know whether or not you’ll experience postpartum depression after the birth of your baby, there are ways to prepare for it. Along with your normal baby prep steps, like planning the nursery, buying baby clothes, and preparing a birth plan, here a few things you can do to get ready for postpartum depression if it comes:
- Have help for at least three or four weeks after bringing the baby home. Loved ones and close friends can help with cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, picking up kids, cooking, and rocking the baby. Having enough help can make things more manageable so you can get the rest you need.
- If you have a therapist, schedule some sessions during the late stages of pregnancy and for a few weeks after the birth. If you don’t have one, consider joining a PPD support group and attend a few meetings before baby comes so you can get to know other members.
- Talk to your OB/GYN about your fears of developing PPD after your baby is born. She can point you in the right direction for support in a variety of areas, including breastfeeding support, in-house help, and new mom support groups.6
Finding Help for Postpartum Depression
If you or a loved one are struggling with postpartum depression, our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions and help you find the right outpatient treatment options for you. Outpatient therapy works with your schedule and involves holistic treatment. Call today.
By Patti Richards
1“Postpartum Depression.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1 Sept. 2018.
2“Causes of Postpartum Depression.” PostpartumDepression.org. Accessed Sept. 12, 2018.
3 Wang, Emily. “Chrissy Teigen Is Worried She Might Get Postpartum Depression Again With Her Son.” SELF, SELF, 26 Feb. 2018.
4McDaniels, Andrea K. “For Serena Williams, Postpartum Depression like Another Trimester of Pregnancy.” Baltimoresun.com, 16 Aug. 2018.
5“What Is Postpartum Depressions and Anxiety?” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association. Accessed Sept. 13, 2018.
6“Postpartum Depression Survivors: How To Prepare For the Next Baby.” POSTPARTUM PROGRESS, Sept. 2018.