Birthing a newborn is both exciting and scary. The time after a woman gives birth is called postpartum. Approximately 70 percent of women develop the baby blues. It lasts an estimated 3-5 days during postpartum. However, prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness might be signs of Postpartum Depression.1
Postpartum Depression affects behaviors and the physical health of sufferers. It impacts one in nine women and might cause a new mother the inability to care for her newborn properly.2 However, mental health professionals acknowledge that a woman’s depression may develop during pregnancy. Peripartum depression includes pregnancy and after the child’s birth.3 If a mother experiences symptoms of depression during or after giving birth, she should contact mental health services immediately.
Physicians believe hormonal changes right after delivery may cause postpartum depression. During pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone levels increase. But after the delivery, the levels return to the pre-pregnancy range. Yet estrogen and progesterone are not the only hormones impacted by the post-delivery drop. Thyroid hormones might decrease after labor. People experiencing low thyroid hormone levels can feel depression symptoms. Thankfully, medication is available to treat postpartum depression.4
- Feeling depressed during most of your day
- Lack of interest or pleasure, most of your day
- Difficulty sleeping or increased sleeping
- Slowed down thinking or body movements
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating or deciding
- A change in appetite or weight
- Suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempts5
But aside from the listed signs and symptoms, mothers might experience anxiety or psychotic symptoms like delusions or hallucinations telling the mom to harm the baby.6
A depressive postpartum episode might be mild, moderate, or severe. However, the mother still needs to be under the care of a therapist once a diagnosis is made.7
Many depression clients also participate in psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is a popular type of talk therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a common form of talk therapy used to treat depression. During sessions, clients learn problem-solving skills. Clients are also taught to notice which symptoms impact and make their depression worse.9
American Psychological Association. “What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?” American Psychological Association, July 2017, www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral. Accessed 31 Mar. 2022.
Leight, Kristin, et al. “Treatment of Post-Partum Depression: A Review of Clinical, Psychological and Pharmacological Options.” International Journal of Women’s Health, vol. 3, no. V 3, Dec. 2010, p. 1, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3039003/, 10.2147/ijwh.s6938.
Mughal, Saba, et al. “Postpartum Depression.” PubMed, StatPearls Publishing, 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519070/. Accessed 31 Mar. 2022.
Office on Women’s Health. “Postpartum Depression | Office on Women’s Health.” Www.womenshealth.gov, www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/postpartum-depression#references. Accessed 31 Mar. 2022.
Torres, Felix. “What Is Postpartum Depression?” Psychiatry.org, 2016, www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/postpartum-depression/what-is-postpartum-depression. Accessed 31 Mar. 2022.