Managing Postpartum Depression

May 4th, 2014 / by / in: Lifestyle / No responses

Some degree of emotional upheaval is completely natural after childbirth. As many as 80 percent of new moms experience a phase known as the ‘baby blues’-a rather glib term for a very distressing emotional state. This phase of teary despair tends to come in the days following childbirth and hang around for a couple weeks before you begin to feel more like yourself again.

Postpartum depression may feel similar in nature to the baby blues, but it’s a far more severe and persistent condition than the hormonal drop after childbirth. If your baby blues don’t seem to fade away after a few weeks then you may be suffering from this difficult form of clinical depression.

What Are The Risk Factors?

Some women are more prone than others to develop postpartum depression. If you have a family history of mental illness, or a history of depression or anxiety yourself, then you may be more likely to fall ill after giving birth. Difficult life circumstances can also trigger postpartum depression, such as financial problems or issues in your relationship with your partner. However, you don’t have to fall into any of the risk factor categories to experience depression- some women feel that the illness strikes out of the blue with no prior warning.

What Are The Symptoms?

Postpartum depression is characterized by a distinctive set of symptoms. If you experience any of these warning signs then you may need to see your doctor:

  • Tearfulness or crying
  • Irritability and anger
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Excessive feelings of guilt
  • Hypersensitivity to people and things that wouldn’t normally bother you
  • Excessive worry and anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of interests in activities that you used to enjoy
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Physical exhaustion and general fatigue
  • Physical symptoms like headaches, muscle pains, backache or stomach ache that can’t be explained by illness

What Can You Do?

Taking care of a newborn baby is hard work. When you add postpartum depression into the equation, things can feel extremely unmanageable. It’s important to take the necessary steps to care for yourself during this hard time.

  • Ask for help. If you’re finding it hard to cope after having a baby, reach out to family and friends for extra support. Just having the chance to take a long nap or lie in the bath for a while can turn your day around when you’re depressed, but these things are only possible with a little outside help. Tell those you trust that you’re struggling and accept any outside help that’s offered.
  • Get outside. Try to get out at least once a day, even if it’s just to walk to a local store with your baby. The fresh air will make you and your baby feel better, and having contact with other people can help you to feel less isolated.
  • Talk to a doctor. Most doctors are well equipped to help you through postpartum depression, so open up to your healthcare provider and ask what treatment is available.
  • Practice self-care. If nothing else, try to take small steps each day to care for yourself while you’re depressed. Shower regularly, nap when you need to rest and try to wear something that makes you feel good. These small steps may seem superficial and meaningless, but they’ll make you feel more like your old self again.