Mental health can be a tough subject to talk about. But at the end of the day, your mental well-being is just as important as your physical well-being. In fact, the two go hand in hand. In the words of the World Health Organization, “there is no health without mental health.”
Mental Health & Postpartum Depression
Depression is more common than you think, and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. More than 260 million people around the world suffer from depression and of that number, more women are affected than men. More specifically, a study of 10,000 newborn mothers found roughly 1 in 7 were affected by postpartum depression.
The symptoms of postpartum depression can onset at any time. That means mothers who have previously given birth without any problems may still develop postpartum depression after the birth of another child. While risk factors like family history of depression or overwhelming stress may increase the likelihood of developing depression, anyone can be affected.
During pregnancy, hormone levels rise, peak, and then quickly subside after birth. This can cause feelings of sadness and guilt, apathy, oversleeping, loss of concentration and memory, mood swings, and even inhibit new mothers from forming bonds with their babies. But how can you tell whether it’s the baby blues or postpartum depression?
Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is more than the typical “baby blues.” Whereas the baby blues typically set in within a day or two of delivery and subside within a few weeks, postpartum depression usually affects mothers a little later; about three weeks after delivery, but may begin at any time from pregnancy to a year after giving birth.
Baby blues can be mistaken for postpartum depression at first, but the signs and symptoms are far more intense and if left untreated, last much longer. What are the signs to look out for?
- Severe mood swings or overly depressed mood
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Changes in appetite (overeating/undereating)
- Changed in sleeping patterns (oversleeping/insomnia)
- Overwhelming loss of energy and motivation
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Hopelessness, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, or inadequacy
- Trouble with focus, concentration, and memory
- Severe panic and anxiety attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
While you may be embarrassed or reluctant to speak up about these things, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. These feelings are perfectly normal, and with treatment, postpartum depression can be managed.
What Can You Do
One of the most common causes of depression is the lack of a strong support system. Mothers who feel overwhelmed or lack support from their partner or family are more likely to develop postpartum depression. It’s crucial to have a network of people behind you to lend an ear and ease the burden.
Remember: you’re not alone. Many women face emotional challenges, and just because you have these feelings does not mean you’re weak or unfit to be a mother. With help and time, the feelings will go away and you can lead a normal, happy, healthy life.
If you are concerned about postpartum depression, here are a couple of things you can do:
- Consider joining a support group, like Southtowns Postpartum Wellness
- Be open and honest with loved ones, family, and your medical providers
- Self-care. Sleep, take time for your emotional and physical needs, eat healthily and avoid caffeine. Taking care of yourself is the first step to better mental health!
- Consider counseling and/or medication for your symptoms.
We Are Here For You
With staff on-site and guidance to additional resources, OBGYN Associates of Western New York is here for you. Call us today to schedule an appointment.