Postpartum Depression

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May is Postpartum Depression Awareness Month.

By Brittany Dyer

Postpartum depression occurs when a woman has moderate to severe depression after giving birth. It may not develop immediately and can even show up within a year of giving birth to a child or multiple children. However, it commonly arises within the first few months of giving birth.

There are many reasons why postpartum depression can occur. Some reasons include changes to your body after giving birth, both hormonally and because of physical appearance. Not getting enough sleep because the baby is keeping mommy awake is another potential cause of postpartum depression. Life changes, such as not being able to do the things you want because you now how a little one to think about and take care of. Changes in life can also include a change to one’s work schedule or becoming a first time stay at home mom. Finally, worrying about not being a good mother can lead to postpartum depression as well. Other risk factors that increase one’s chances of developing postpartum depression are being a young mom, typically those who are under 20 years old. Having an unplanned or unexpected pregnancy can also increase the likelihood of having postpartum depression. Previous history or family history of depression also raises the risk of fostering postpartum depression. Likewise, difficult or unmet expectations during the birthing process can lead to the development of postpartum depression. Strained relationships with one’s spouse or partner or lack of support from family or one’s community can lead to postpartum depression too. Financial struggles could also be a risk factor for introducing postpartum depression as well.

The postpartum depression symptoms to be aware of after delivering a child include being agitated easily. An unusual change in appetite may be another sign of postpartum depression as well. Another common sign of depression is no longer being able to focus on things one was once able to concentrate on. An unusual lack of energy or lack of motivation to do normal things is a warning sign to consider too. Likewise, withdrawing from meaning life situations is a sign to look out for. No longer feeling pleasure from activities that were previously enjoyable is also a warning sign of postpartum depression. Extreme anxiety in daily life can also be a sign of postpartum depression as well. Additionally, feelings of worthlessness is a common symptom of depression to be aware of after pregnancy. Thoughts of self harm, suicide or harming someone else are also major warning signs, where one needs to seek help immediately.

A mother experiencing postpartum depression may also find it difficult to take care of herself or her baby for many differing reasons. Mothers experiencing this type of depression may struggle with an unhealthy amount of worry for their child. Mothers with postpartum depression may have negative feelings toward their child as well. However, these feelings are not the mother thinking these things, but the depression causing her to think these thoughts. Still she may feel uneasy about being alone with her baby because she feels like she may be unfit to care for him or because she is afraid she may harm him.

If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression or are experiencing any of the signs listed above within a year of having a little one, please reach out to a family member or friend. Do not keep your thoughts and feelings about this topic to yourself. Make sure you are taking care of yourself too and try to get as much sleep as possible. Also, it is helpful to talk to other mothers to help you along this journey of motherhood as well.

photo by Shandi-lee CoxCC BY NC ND 2.0

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