When symptoms of baby blues don’t improve or worsen, you may have postpartum depression. Fifteen percent of women suffer from postpartum depression, and the percentages are even higher for women who are dealing with poverty, and can be twice as high for teen parents. Women who have a history of depression or anxiety are also at higher risk of having a postpartum depression. It can occur anytime in the first year postpartum, but will commonly appear 3-4 weeks postpartum. Symptoms can be different for everyone, but some symptoms to watch for include:
- Feelings of anger or irritability
- Lack of interest in baby
- Appetite and sleep disturbances
- Crying and sadness
- Overwhelming anxiety and being overprotective of baby
- Lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Thoughts of harming yourself or baby
Although postpartum depression is common, it is serious and requires medical attention. If you are concerned that you may be suffering from postpartum depression, please call your health care provider for help and to discuss treatment options. Medication, therapy, and participating in support groups are some of the types of treatment available. Also, having a good support system of family and friends who can help you through this difficult time is very important. You should discuss your feelings with those closest to you, so that they can help. Ideally, you should not be left alone with baby until your symptoms improve. If you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, you need to go to the nearest Emergency Room or call 911 immediately.
You are not alone!
Although postpartum depression is common, it is serious—and treatable. If you think you might have it, tell your doctor or another health care provider. With help, you can feel like yourself again.
What you should know
It is very common for new moms to have the “baby blues.” They often start a few days after a baby’s birth. Usually, feeling sad and irritable will not stop you from taking care of your baby or yourself.
If symptoms interfere with your life or last longer than two to three weeks, you may have postpartum depression. This affects up to 2 out of 10 moms. It can occur any time in your baby’s first year.
Women who have a history of depression are more likely to become depressed during pregnancy or after birth. Depression can be caused by stress, hormone changes, trauma, lack of support and other factors.
If you are depressed, you need to get help. It will not get better on its own.