FAQs on Postpartum Depression
Get answers regarding this common postpartum challenge
Postpartum depression (PPD) affects roughly 13% of new mothers, making it an extremely common experience. The good news: there are plenty of highly effective treatment options. If you suspect you have postpartum depression, call your doctor today so you can start feeling better soon. And if you’re not sure what’s wrong, and need more information, here are some of the most commonly asked questions.
When does postpartum depression occur?
It can occur anytime during your baby’s first year of life.
What’s the difference between “baby blues” and postpartum depression?
The baby blues usually begin soon after childbirth and last only a few days to two weeks. If you have the baby blues, you might:
- Feel sad, anxious, or overwhelmed;
- Have mood swings or crying spells;
- Lose your appetite; and/or
- Have trouble sleeping (though, chances are, you won’t be sleeping much anyway).
Postpartum depression symptoms are similar to the above, but they don’t go away after a week or two and are more intense. Additional symptoms may include:
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, and
- Having little interest in your baby.
When is it time to call a doctor?
- Your baby blues don’t go away after two weeks,
- Your symptoms of depression get more intense,
- You can’t take care of yourself or your baby,
- It’s hard for you to do daily tasks, and/or
- You think about hurting yourself or your baby.
It’s important to remember that symptoms vary from woman to woman. Not everyone who suffers from PPD seems depressed in the conventional sense. You can learn about the myths that surround postpartum depression by clicking here.
If I had PPD with my first child, will I have it after other pregnancies?
Having had postpartum depression once puts you at a slightly higher risk—about 30 percent—for having it again. Thankfully, this time around, you can prepare by activating support networks like therapists, doctors, family, and friends, which can make all the difference.
What causes postpartum depression?
No one knows for sure. Changes in hormone levels from pregnancy and delivery play a part, as do lack of sleep, lifestyle changes, worries about being a good mother, and a history of depression.
I think I have postpartum depression. What should I do?
Tell your doctor right away. She can help you figure out a treatment that’s right for you. Antidepressants can be extremely helpful (and many of them can be used while you’re nursing), and therapy can also work wonders.
What else can help?
After you’ve spoken to a doctor and started treatment, you might find these tips helpful:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Don't try to do too much or to be perfect. None of us are.
- Make time to go out, visit friends, and pamper yourself.
- Talk about your feelings with family and friends. Ask for help.
- Don't make major life changes during pregnancy or right after birth, if possible.
- Join a support group, either locally or online. Postpartum Progress has lots of information, answers to common questions, links to resources, and mom-to-mom forums.
Photo credit Shutterstock.com
Nicole C. Kear, is the author of Now I See You: A Memoir, recently published by St. Martin’s Press. Kear, who lives in New York City, is also an editor, speaker, and mother of three.
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