Identifying and Treating Postpartum Depression

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Are you experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression? Postpartum or maternal depression is sometimes interchangeably used with the term baby blues. It’s important to understand that PPD is a severe condition, while the term baby blues typically refers to a milder form that lasts between 2 days to 2 weeks after a woman gives birth. In this article, we’ll explain what postpartum depression is, the signs to look for, and when to seek treatment.

What is PPD?

Postpartum depression is a serious mental illness that affects between 10 and 13 percent of women, according to the CDC. That’s between 1 in 8 and 1 in 10 women. It can affect the woman’s ability to care for herself and her baby. To ensure the health and well-being of the mother and new baby, early identification of maternal depression symptoms is essential.

Postpartum Depression

What are the symptoms of PPD?

Postpartum depression is characterized by sadness, hopelessness, anxiety and even guilt. Physical symptoms may include eating more or less than usual, changes in sleeping patterns, difficulty bonding with the baby, and fluctuating energy levels. The woman may also experience physical aches and pains that do not improve with treatment.

If you’re concerned that you have postpartum depression or a woman in your family has postpartum depression, there is a postpartum depression test available at Mental Health America that can help with early identification. Of course, this test is not a definitive diagnosis, so speaking with a professional postpartum counselor, like those at Mind Body Optimization is important.

What causes postpartum depression?

It’s important to understand that postpartum depression doesn’t have a single cause. It’s also not a character flaw in the woman or due to anything the new mother did or didn’t do before, during or after the pregnancy. With that being said, risk factors can increase a woman’s chances of developing maternal depression.

  • The baby was born with health problems or special needs.
  • The woman has had multiple pregnancies.
  • The woman wasn’t excited about becoming a new mom or having the baby.
  • Having multiple births, like twins or triplets.
  • The woman has little social or family support.
  • A different stressful event happened during or shortly after the pregnancy, like a job loss, relationship breakup, or financial difficulties.

Are there any risk factors for developing PPD?

Some risk factors may make it more likely for a woman to develop postpartum depression.

  • Already having a family history or personal history of depression or other mood disorders before becoming pregnant.
  • Being a younger mother.
  • Having premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is a severe version of PMS.
  • Having marital conflicts or strife in the marriage.

What are the available treatments for postpartum depression?

It’s important to understand that after having a baby, there will be some postpartum adjustment as hormone levels return to normal and the body heals. However, it’s time to seek treatment for persistent and severe symptoms.

Postpartum counseling

Postpartum counseling and therapy are highly effective at treating the depression that occurs after having a baby. This treatment can help the new mother understand her feelings about having a new baby and learn new coping skills to deal with the challenges of caring for the baby.

Postpartum medications

If therapy doesn’t provide enough help, there are postpartum medications that can be prescribed. These may include antidepressants or serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Postpartum support groups

Joining a support group with other people who have just had babies can help the woman not feel alone in her symptoms. Not to mention, she can read other people’s stories.

What are some tips for coping with PPD?

Are you wondering how to help someone with postpartum depression? Coping with postpartum depression may seem difficult, but there are some tips that can help with the symptoms. Most importantly, encourage the woman to seek help and reach out for support. Finding a good counselor or therapist who performs a PPD screening and provides talk therapy and stress management techniques can be invaluable.

Remind your female family member or friend to practice good self-care. Everyone, including new mothers, needs to take time for themselves. That includes taking a shower, taking time to be with their emotions and understand why they may be feeling the way they do, and getting plenty of exercise.

Next, remind your female friend, family member, wife, or girlfriend to be patient. Postpartum adjustment is real, and it can take time to heal, recover and develop a new normal for daily life.

Lastly, recommend that they seek professional treatment that includes a PPD screening. Mind Body Optimization in Franklin, TN can help you or your female family member heal from their postpartum depression. We offer treatment for mental health issues, including baby blues and maternal depression.