What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum Depression or Postnatal Depression is a form of depression that affects many women after giving birth. Unfortunately, while very real and actually pretty common, many people avoid talking about Postnatal Depression as having a new baby is meant to be seen as a happy time in one’s life and any negative talk can be frowned upon. However, only upon acknowledging this form of depression, can mothers begin to find healing and look at ways of getting help.

When Does It Occur?

The baby blues are pretty common with new mothers. Within two or three days after giving birth, it is not uncommon for new mothers to feel moody, irritable and anxious. This can lead to crying spells and trouble sleeping, but these mild symptoms normally abate within about two weeks.

Mothers suffering Postnatal Depression however, normally start to experience symptoms around one month after giving birth, however manifestations of this type of depression are not uncommon even twelve months after having a new baby.

What Are The Signs Of Depression?

The symptoms of Postpartum Depression can be hard to identify as its normal for new mothers to lack energy, feel tired and experience changes in weight, appetite and sex drive. Women suffering from Postnatal Depression also express feelings of sadness, hopelessness and loneliness. In addition, women who cannot sleep, even when their baby does, or struggle to get themselves out of bed at all, may be suffering from more than just the baby blues.

New mothers who also have no desire to engage in activities they enjoyed before pregnancy, such as dancing, socialising, and going to the gym, may also be suffering from this form of depression. Other symptoms include feelings of anger and guilt, feeling like a failure and feeling completely overwhelmed by even the smallest of things.

What Causes Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum Depression is a result of hormonal imbalances in the body. Women who have had a history of depression are more likely to suffer from Postnatal Depression, as are those that do not have adequate support symptoms in place. Women on anti-depression medication should not stop this medication unless advised to do so by a doctor. Women who do stop these forms of medication, often have relapses. Postnatal Depression can also be the result of a medical condition, such as an underactive thyroid.

Can You Avoid Postnatal Depression?

While difficult to avoid altogether, there are things you can do to minimise your risk of developing Postnatal Depression. The first thing is to try and not be superwoman; don’t try and do everything yourself and acknowledge when you need help. Your body needs time to recover from the past nine months of pregnancy and the traumatic experience of birthing a baby.

Making friends with other new moms also helps to discuss any issues you may have. If you don’t have a friend or family member you can talk to, then speak to your doctor about seeking out a psychologist who specialises in working with moms.