Within a few days of giving birth, many women can experience feelings of sadness, emptiness, or exhaustion. For many women, these “baby blues” are typically mild, last a week or two, and go away on their own. However, sometimes the feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness stay around longer and if they don’t go away after 2 weeks, the woman may be experiencing postpartum depression.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that involves the brain and affects women’s behavior and physical health. Women who are experiencing postpartum depression may find it difficult to complete typical daily care activities, both for others and for themselves. Postpartum depression can also cause women to feel disconnected from and indifferent towards their new baby, and these feelings can range from being mild to severe.
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
The dramatic hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy and immediately after childbirth trigger the symptoms of postpartum depression. Levels of estrogen and progesterone quickly drop after childbirth, which leads to chemical changes in the woman’s brain that trigger mood swings. Thyroid hormone levels can also drop after giving birth, causing symptoms of depression as well. Another contributing factor to postpartum depression is the mother’s inability to get the rest they need due to the physical discomforts of sleep deprivation and increased exhaustion, making it harder to fully recover from giving birth.
Some symptoms of postpartum depression may include feeling sad, empty, hopeless or overwhelmed; crying for no apparent reason; worrying; anxiety; feeling doubtful about motherhood; and feeling moody or restless.
How Can Someone Get Help?
Women who are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression should see a health care provider right away.
Since each woman’s symptoms vary from person to person, only a health care provider can diagnose a woman with postpartum depression or help her determine if her symptoms are due to something else.
Southern Crescent Women’s Healthcare provides postpartum care. After your delivery, our providers will care for you daily to ensure your health and well-being. Lactation consultants are also available to assist you. If you have a baby boy and you request a circumcision, this will usually be performed prior to your hospital discharge. We look forward to seeing you during your postpartum visit where we will discuss future family planning and gynecological health.