Sep 10

Postpartum Depression

My second child was a breeze to take care of.  She was so less demanding than my son.  He was a preemie who required 3 hour feedings to thrive and who didn’t sleep through the night until 6 months.  In contrast, she slept through the night at 6 weeks and was a happy, cheerful baby. I had the luxury of regular sleep, a supportive husband and felt that our family was complete.  You would think I would be happy but one day after crying for most of the day, yelling at my husband and feeling like a truck had run over me it dawned on me: I had postpartum depression.  I had been experiencing these symptoms for up to two weeks along with anxiety, forgetfulness, and feelings of hopelessness.

Right away I let my family know what was going on and enlisted their help,  My husband took some time off and I made a plan for better self-care and to get out of the house.  Lucking after a month my symptoms lessened and I felt more in control of myself and my life.  For some women these symptoms last longer and can sometimes turn into depression.  If this is you it is helpful to know what you are struggling with and get help.

What is the difference between “baby blues,” postpartum depression (PPD), and postpartum psychosis?

-The baby blues can happen in the days right after childbirth and normally go away within a few days to 2 weeks.

-Baby blues include having sudden mood swings, sadness, crying spells, loss of appetite, sleeping problems,and feel irritable, restless, anxious, and lonely.

-Symptoms are not severe and treatment isn’t needed.

-Postpartum blues do not interfere with a woman’s ability to care for her baby.

-PPD can happen anytime within the first year after childbirth.

-You may have negative thoughts about the baby and fears about harming the infant (although women who have these thoughts rarely act on them).

-Postpartum depression often affects a woman’s well-being and keeps her from functioning well for a longer period of time and interferes with a woman’s ability to care for her baby. This condition occurs in about 10-20% of women.

-Postpartum psychosis is rare (e.g. Andrea Yates) Women who have bipolar disorder or another psychiatric problem called schizoaffective disorder have a higher risk for developing postpartum psychosis. Symptoms may include delusions, inability to sleep for no more than 2 hours per night, rapid mood swings, hallucinations (hearing voices, seeing things), paranoia and obsessive thoughts about the baby. For this condition you should seek immediate medical help.


What is PPD?

Any of these symptoms after pregnancy that last longer than two weeks are signs of depression

-Feeling restless or irritable        -Feeling sad, hopeless, and overwhelmed

-Crying a lot                              -Anxiety

-Having no energy or motivation   -Eating too little or too much

-Sleeping too little or too much    -Trouble focusing, remembering, or making decisions

-Feeling worthless and guilty       -Loss of interest or pleasure in activities

-Suicidal thoughts                       -Withdrawal from friends and family

-Having headaches, chest pains, heart palpitations or hyperventilation

-Being afraid of hurting the baby or oneself and not having any interest in the baby.


What steps can I take if I have symptoms of depression after childbirth?


-Try to get as much rest as you can. Try to nap when the baby naps.

-Surround yourself with supportive family members and friends, and ask for their help in caring for the baby.

-Spend some time alone with your husband or partner.

-Take a shower and get dressed every day.

-Get out of the house. Take a walk, see a friend, do something you enjoy. Get someone to take care of the baby if you can; if you can’t, take the baby with you.

-Don’t expect too much from yourself. Don’t worry too much about the housework. Ask friends and family for help.

-Talk to other mothers. You can learn from each other, and their experiences can be reassuring.

-Join a support group for women with depression.

-If the depression persists for longer than 2 weeks or is very deep, talk to your health care provider. Self-care alone is not recommended.

How is depression treated?

There common types of treatment for depression include:

-Talk therapy. This involves talking to a licensed therapist, psychologist, or social worker to learn to change how depression makes you think, feel, and act.

-Medicine. Your doctor can give you an antidepressant medicine to help you. These medicines can help relieve the symptoms of depression. Many women have seen good results with Lexapro.

-Vitamins. It is important to continue taking prenatals and iron even after delivery.

-Hormonal therapy

-Thyroid Check

For More Information & Counseling

Postpartum Education for Parents
Phone: (805) 564-3888
Internet Address: http://www.sbpep.org

Postpartum Support International
Phone: (805) 967-7636
Internet Address: http://www.postpartum.net

Counseling Services: Lyris Bacchus Steuber, LMFT
Phone: (407) 417-7770
Internet Address: www.lyrisbacchus.com

Depression After Delivery – (800) 944-4PPD

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