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Postpartum Depression

When It's More Than Just the Baby Blues

For most women, having a baby is a happy experience, but it can also bring serious complications. An all too common complication associated with giving birth is Postpartum Depression (PPD).

Many women, up to 80%, will experience what is commonly referred to as the "baby blues" after giving birth. One out of every eight to ten women will experience a more severe form of the baby blues known as PPD. Researchers believe that PPD is caused by the rapid hormonal changes that occur just after birth.

How do you differentiate between the baby blues and PPD? The baby blues are more commonly associated with a short term sense of sadness after birth, usually lasting for no more than 2 weeks. It is normal after the excitement of pregnancy and the drama of birth for women to feel slightly blue and even let down. PPD is much more serious, and sometimes doesn't kick in until a few weeks after delivery.

There are several warning signs that patients should look for if they suspect PPD.

Warning Signs of PPD:
  • Constantly feeling restless
  • Irritability that doesn't fade day after day
  • Feelings of sadness that last more than a few hours or one day
  • Frequent and inexplicable crying
  • Persistent lack of energy
  • Inability to sleep despite fatigue
  • Weight loss or weight gain that is extreme
  • Feelings or fears that you will harm the baby
  • Guilt
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Excessive anger
  • Lack of interest in your newborn
  • Intrusive thoughts
PPD is very serious. If you have one or more of the signs listed above and are concerned, it is extremely important that you consult with your doctor immediately. PPD can be treated with a combination of medication and counseling or therapy. There are also several things that you can do to care for yourself if you are experiencing signs of PPD. 

Tips for Caring for Yourself:
  • Rest as much as possible
  • Talk to your partner about your fears and concerns
  • Talk to your doctor
  • Be around other people as much as possible
  • Find a support group of other mothers or talk to friends of yours that have children for support
  • Take some time to get dressed and fix your hair. Enlist the help of your partner when you need it.
Some people are more at risk for PPD than others. If you have a family history of depression, or have recently experienced events that were unusually stressful while pregnant or shortly after birth, you may be at risk. Single mothers are also more at risk. Be sure to reach out to friends, family members and even your doctor who might be able to recommend a community support group for you to get involved with.
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About The Author

Antigone Arthur
Antigone is a freelance writer and proud mother. She has been researching and writing about pregnancy, breastfeeding, infertility and alternative health solutions for more than a decade.
Antigone Arthur

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