Postpartum Depression

By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution

QUESTION: I know that it’s normal to have the “baby blues” right after you have a baby, but my son is six weeks old. I thought everything would be wonderful by now and I would be so in love with my baby. I thought mothering would come easily. It’s not that way at all! I can’t sleep, even when he’s sleeping. I feel hollow inside, like the real me is gone. Sometimes I cry for hours; other times, I feel angry enough to explode. Life feels like an endless amusement park ride, and sometimes I just want to get off. Why am I such a terrible mother?

Learn about it

You’re not a terrible mother! You are a mother who is suffering from a condition known as postpartum depression, a condition that is treatable. While as many as 80% of mothers experience a temporary and mild condition referred to as the baby blues, up to 15% of women have the more severe reaction you’re experiencing. Having PPD doesn’t mean that you have done something wrong, or that something is wrong with you; it is an illness and it can be cured. Once you learn more about what’s causing your despondent emotions and take some steps toward treatment, you’ll be on the road to finding yourself again and enjoying your baby.

What is postpartum depression?

PPD is a medical condition - a specific type of depression that occurs within the first few months after childbirth. It is caused by the biochemical and hormonal changes that happen in the body after pregnancy and birth…nothing that is within your control.

What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?

While PPD affects all women differently, a few typical symptoms can help your physician make the diagnosis. You probably are not experiencing everything on the following list, and the degree of symptoms may range from mild to severe, but if a number of these apply to you, you may be suffering from PPD.

Symptoms of postpartum depression may include but are not limited to:

  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or inadequate

  • Frequent crying or tearfulness

  • Insomnia or sleepiness

  • Lack of energy

  • Loss of pleasure in activities you normally enjoy

  • Difficulty doing typical daily chores

  • Loss of appetite

  • Feelings of sadness and despair

  • Feelings of guilt, panic or confusion

  • Feelings of anger or anxiety

  • Extreme mood swings

  • Memory loss

  • Overconcern for baby

  • Fear of “losing control”

  • Lack of interest in sex

  • Worrying that you may hurt your baby

  • A desire to escape from your baby or your family

  • Withdrawal from social circles and routines

  • Thoughts about hurting yourself

If you suffer from extreme degrees of any of these symptoms, particularly thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby, or if you have additional physical symptoms such as hallucinations, confusion or paranoia, then please call a doctor today. NOW. Your condition requires immediate medical care. If you can’t make the call, then please talk to your partner, your mother or father, a sibling or close friend and ask them to help you arrange for help. Do this for yourself and for your baby. If you can’t talk about it, rip this page out and hand it to someone close to you. It’s that important. You do not have to feel this way.

What can a doctor do about postpartum depression?

As with any form of depression, help is available and only as far away as your healthcare provider - contact your ob/gyn or midwife to start with, if that’s most comfortable for you. She can help you get the professional care you need from someone who has experience dealing with this condition. In the longer term, it’s important that your therapy take place with a professional who has experience in treating PPD; the malady is different from other forms of depression, and it is very specifically related to your role as a new mother.

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By LAMOM356 on 06/03/11 at 11:02 am

Omega-3 Fish oils can help deal with postpartum depression. You have to start taking them early in your pregnancy. I suffered with depression after my f  ...

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