Recognizing Postpartum Depression
Having a baby is one of those life-changing events that can rock your world in ways both good and bad. On the plus side, you finally get to know that tiny newborn that you fantasized about throughout your pregnancy.
On the not-so-good side, you have to take care of that adorable (and helpless) little baby while you’re recovering from labor, dealing with roller-coaster hormone levels, and getting by on little sleep.
No wonder new moms feel weepy, at times. These feelings, known as the baby blues, are normal and typically go away within a few weeks after birth.
If the feelings of depression linger, they can turn out to be a common but often undiagnosed condition called postpartum depression (PPD). PPD can begin anytime within the first three months of giving birth. Unlike the baby blues, postpartum depression lasts longer than a few weeks and the negative feelings are usually more intense. Symptoms include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness
- Inability or lack of desire to take care of yourself and/or your baby
- Feelings of failure as a mother, and guilt about your feelings
- Extreme fatigue
- Eating problems
- Memory problems
- Feelings of panic
- Obsessive-compulsive thoughts or behavior
Talk to your doctor if you feel that you might be suffering from PPD. They will screen you by asking simple questions. If you are suffering from PPD, the good news is that it is highly treatable. Your doctor may recommend talk therapy and/or antidepressants (many of which are safe to take while breastfeeding).
Besides therapy, there are other things you can do to try to lighten your load and spruce up your spirits:
- Ask for (and accept!) help from family and friends. Don’t try to be a supermom and do it all.
- Have your partner take some nighttime shifts with the baby so you can get some sleep.
- Aim to get out of the house at least once a day for fresh air and a change of scene.
- Get support from others. Talk with friends or find other moms who are wrestling with the same feelings.
You can take comfort in the fact that with treatment, most women recover completely from postpartum depression — especially when it’s diagnosed and treated early. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy your beautiful baby to the fullest!
Jocelyn Debick, Director accessAbilities First Step Early Intervention
- BA in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, Carlow University, Pittsburgh, PA
- Infant Mental Health Graduate Certificate, Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA
- Experience includes 25 years in Early Intervention, Early Childhood Education; advocate high quality early care and education services
accessAbilities First Steps Early Intervention provides a variety of home-based services for children ages birth to age 3. These services are designed to foster learning and growth during the most important developmental stages as well as provide support for the family as a whole.
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