Postpartum Depression

Why do you feel so down after having a baby?

It is “expected” that a new mom will be full of joy and happiness when she has her baby and it can be very upsetting if you feel the opposite. Roughly 40 percent to 80 percent of new moms experience a condition called Baby Blues. This emotional state of worry, tearfulness, worry, fatigue, and self-doubt starts a few days after birth.

However, if these feelings get unusually intense and last for more than two weeks, you could be having postpartum depression. One major characteristic of PPD is that daily tasks become so daunting and simple tasks seem almost impossible to accomplish, like nursing the baby or just taking a shower.

As much as 10 percent of new mothers develop PPD. However, the percentage may be higher given that a large number of women do not seek treatment. Sometimes, PPD starts before birth or even weeks after birth.

Other symptoms of postpartum depression

Feeling overwhelmed, sad, empty or hopeless
Crying regularly, more than usual and for no apparent reason
Feeling overly anxious or worrying excessively
Feeling, moody, irritable and restless
Oversleeping or unable to get sleep even when the baby has slept
Having trouble remembering details, concentrating or making simple decisions
Experiencing random bouts of anger
Eating too little or too much
Losing interest in activities that you used to enjoy
Avoiding or withdrawing from friends and family
Thinking of harming the baby or herself
Suffering from physical pain ex. muscles, joints, headaches and stomach issues
Doubting your ability to care for your child

Who is at a higher risk of getting postpartum depression?

Depression during or after a previous pregnancy
A previous bipolar disorder
A previous diagnosis of mental illness
A stressful life event after the birth, or an event during pregnancy ex. job loss, death of a loved one or illness
Having mixed feeling about a pregnancy especially if the pregnancy was not planned.
Lack of emotional support from family members or spouse
Drug abuse and alcohol problems

Any woman can experience postpartum depression regardless of the number of births she has had in the past, ethnicity, and age.

What is the treatment for postpartum depression?

There are some options available for postpartum depression. They include:
Medication – You and your doctor will decide, and most antidepressants are safe for lactating mothers and their children.

Counseling

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This therapy is focused on helping people recognize and change the negative behaviors and thoughts.

If postpartum depression is not treated, it may affect the health of the mother and her ability to connect with her child. The child may also have problems with behavior, eating and sleeping, so don’t be afraid to reach out if you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression.

Written by Lori Ralko, M.A., RP, RSW Registered Toronto Psychotherapist