After delivery, many women experience feelings of excitement, sadness, fear, and anxiety. The anxiety can result in something you might not be expecting like depression. It’s estimated that about 10 percent of moms with newborns go through postpartum depression without even knowing it. When the child is born, the levels of hormones, estrogen, and progesterone, in a woman’s body drops quickly. This may trigger mood swings due to chemical changes in the brain. Being tired following a child’s birth is normal, but being sad or hopeless isn’t. If you experience the below warning signs of postpartum depression, then you need to talk to your doctor.
Your Thoughts Are Full of Sadness and Guilt
Once in a while, you might feel upset which is totally normal. But if you‘re always going through crying spells, or you feel unhappy as a new mom or parent, then this isn’t a good sign. Postpartum depression can make you feel ‘down on yourself’ as a mom. In case you experience any of these signs, then you need help. In fact, these are the first signs of postpartum depression which can last for a while.
The “Baby Blues” Aren’t Getting Better
Baby blues are all those emotions you’re experiencing from mood swings to crying spells to anxiety to difficulty sleeping. It’s fine to have all these feelings during the baby’s first two weeks. You should feel better by the third week. If you still feel sad and hopeless weeks later, and the feelings are growing intensely, that’s more than the blues. This is the most common sign of postpartum depression. Seek medical care as soon as possible prevent the situation from getting worse.
You Worry You Won’t Be a Good Mom
Especially if you have a premature, sick child or a child with special needs, you might question your ability as a mom. This happens to be an exceptional situation which almost every mom goes through after the birth of their child. However, if you don’t have any of the above situations, yet you still have constant doubts about yourself as a mother, this could be a sign of something else like postpartum depression. The early you seek medical care the better.
Changes in Sleep Patterns
Of course, being pregnant and then delivering can automatically change your sleep pattern. But after childbirth, if you find yourself not resting when your child is napping or you’re sleeping all the time, that’s more than a new sleep pattern. Also, avoid taking over-the-counter medication to help with sleep. Sleep deprivation due to postpartum depression should be treated with different medications other than sleeping pills.
You Think of Harming Yourself
Thoughts of harming yourself or the kids are advanced signs of postpartum depression. This could be a sign of postpartum psychosis, a rare and serious mental illness that happens with postpartum depression. If you’re having any suicidal thoughts, you should call your doctor or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 immediately. Additionally, while in this state of mind try as much as possible not to go near the child. Although this condition is rare, it happens in one out of 1000 new moms.
We understand that it’s a new experience, you might be feeling tired, exhausted and not thinking straight. If these feelings take more than two weeks, you might be dealing with something else. The situation might get worse. You can’t even decide whether to take a shower, change your baby’s diaper, get out of bed or take a walk. These are early signs of postpartum depression.
Decreased Sex Drive
According to studies, it’s normal for women to lose sex drive in the first months after childbirth. This might happen due to weight gain or having a different image of their body. This should last for a short period. However, if several months have passed and you’re still experiencing a lack of sex drive, you might be suffering from postpartum depression. You need to seek counseling and therapy.
Causes of Postpartum Depression
There is no specific cause of this condition, but it may result from a combination of physical and emotional factors. The most contributing factors to postpartum depression include:
- A personal or family history of mental health conditions, for example, bipolar disorder or depression.
- Poor relationship with one’s partner.
- Stress or major life events such as the death of a loved one or a major move during or after pregnancy.
- Unplanned pregnancy.
- A complicated birth.
- The baby having health challenges or special needs.
- Substance abuse.
The good news is that postpartum depression can be treated just like any other depression. Additionally, parents with twins or triplets are thought to be at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression due to increased challenges of caring for two or more babies. Therefore, such parents should be given more care and attention to make the situation easy to manage.
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