Postpartum Depression: Symptoms and Treatment
Childbirth is a transformative impact on a woman’s body. Growing a life within yourself brings about drastic hormonal and physical changes before, during, and after childbirth. If you feel like a negative shift in mental health postpartum, you may be struggling with postpartum depression.
After childbirth, our body experiences changes in your estrogen and progesterone levels. These changes have a considerable impact on your mood and mental health.
How Do I Know if I Have Postpartum Depression?
It is usually normal to feel drastically different until about two weeks after childbirth. However, if feelings persist for more than two weeks, you should be evaluated for postpartum depression.
Some symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Not feeling connected to your baby
- Intrusive thoughts about your baby
- Neglecting your own or your baby’s hygiene
- Inability to focus
- Drastic mood swings
- Inability to enjoy activities you once loved
- Panic attacks
- Thoughts of suicide
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Because of fluctuating hormones, the “baby blues,” feeling sad, down, or “unlike yourself” for the first two weeks is expected. You may even feel mild sadness as you readjust to bringing in a new member of your family. However, if your symptoms are severe, it may be time to talk to a mental health professional.
Is Postpartum Depression common?
Postpartum depression, though it sounds intimidating, is widespread. Don’t be shy or guilty in mentioning feelings of depression or anxiety to your doctor during your postpartum check-ups. Most doctors will have you fill out a survey of 10-12 questions about your mental health in your two-week postpartum visit. They will evaluate your score and whether you may be struggling with postpartum depression.
What Can I Do If I Have Postpartum Depression?
Talk to a Mental Health Professional – If you feel like you may be struggling with postpartum depression, talk to your healthcare provider, or call a mental health professional. They will be able to evaluate you and diagnose your case. If your symptoms are not severe enough to be considered postpartum depression, they may still see you to treat an adjustment disorder. That is when you are struggling to adjust to significant changes in your life.
Build Your Support Group – Friends and family make a huge difference in postpartum care. Don’t be shy to ask for help or even ask someone to look after your baby and kids so you can get an extra nap in the day or talk about your strong emotions. It may feel foreign to you at first, but having strong support can help you handling your postpartum depression.
Movement and Exercise– Once you are cleared for exercise, taking a walk outside or allowing yourself some time to move can help manage your postpartum depression. Exercise releases“happy” hormones such as dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin. These hormones play a crucial role in managing mental health issues.
Allow Time to Enjoy Activities – Even if it is for an hour a week while a family member or friend helps with the baby and the kids, make time to enjoy activities that you usually like. At first, you may feel guilty for your time away; however, making time for your self-care will help your well-being, supporting healthy well-being for your family.