Women put off seeking help for postpartum depression for many reasons. They may think they simply have a temporary case of the “baby blues,” or they may even feel too depressed to do anything, especially going to appointments.
Women may feel too ashamed or too afraid to admit to the severity of their emotions. That’s especially true when postpartum depression negatively impacts a new mother’s ability to bond with her son or daughter.
If you feel depressed after having a baby, there are two things you need to know. First, postpartum depression is a type of major depression that will not improve without treatment.
As specialists in reproductive psychiatry, our experienced psychiatrists and psychotherapists at WCWCW work closely with each woman, providing personalized treatment that meets their mental health needs.
Postpartum depression vs baby blues
It’s easier to recognize postpartum depression when you can differentiate between depression and the baby blues.
Roughly 70-80% of women are adversely affected by the baby blues within the first few days after they deliver their baby. If you do have the baby blues, you can expect to experience symptoms such as anxiety, anger, unexplained crying, mood swings, restlessness, and difficulty making choices.
These emotional ups and downs typically come from a natural response to the dramatic physical and hormonal changes that occur after having your baby.
What’s different between the baby blues and postpartum depression? The most significant thing is that the baby blues are self-limited and typically resolve within a couple of weeks.
Postpartum depression typically appears within the first month following delivery. However, you may not have symptoms for several months. Some women are surprised that their depression can begin as early as the weeks before delivery and stay with them long after the birth of their baby.
Major depressive disorder with postpartum onset is the medical term for postpartum depression. It’s a serious mental health condition and shouldn’t be taken lightly or shrugged off as something that’s merely “in her head.”
Women with postpartum depression can develop serious symptoms and emotional distress. Their depression affects not only themselves, but also those around them, often interfering with their ability to bond with and care for their new baby, as well as other family members. This type of depression doesn’t go away on its own.
Postpartum depression symptoms
Like major depression, postpartum depression is ubiquitous and touches every aspect of your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. If you have postpartum depression you:
- Feel drained of energy
- Feel sad, hopeless, or worthless
- Feel irritable and angry
- Focus on negative thoughts
- Develop ongoing anxiety
- May have panic attacks
- Cry suddenly and uncontrollably
- Eat more or less than usual
- Sleep more or less than usual
- Withdraw from caring for your baby
- Withdraw from family and friends
- Lose interest in people and activities you usually enjoy
- Have thoughts of harming either yourself or your baby
Though you probably won’t have all of the symptoms in this list, chances are you will experience many of them. Postpartum depression frequently causes physical symptoms, too, including digestive problems, headaches, and muscle, joint, and abdominal pain.
What to do for postpartum depression
If you have postpartum depression, do this one thing to take care of yourself: Call us for help. We know that taking this important first step can be difficult to do, especially when you feel depressed, but receiving treatment is the only way to overcome your depression.
If you keep waiting and hoping to feel better, chances are your depression will last longer. Without treatment, postpartum depression can last for years.
We can help you heal and enjoy your baby and family with holistic care that includes lifestyle support, psychotherapy, and medication management.
Don’t wait to take that first step. Call the WCWCW office or request an appointment online today. We also offer telehealth appointments, so you can get the help you need from home.