What Can I Do At Home To Feel Better While Seeing A Doctor For Postpartum Depression
Here are some ways to begin feeling better or getting more rest, in addition to talking to a health care professional:
- Rest as much as you can. Sleep when the baby is sleeping.
- Dont try to do too much or to do everything by yourself. Ask your partner, family, and friends for help.
- Make time to go out, visit friends, or spend time alone with your partner.
- Talk about your feelings with your partner, supportive family members, and friends.
- Talk with other mothers so that you can learn from their experiences.
- Join a support group. Ask your doctor or nurse about groups in your area.
- Dont make any major life changes right after giving birth. More major life changes in addition to a new baby can cause unneeded stress. Sometimes big changes cant be avoided. When that happens, try to arrange support and help in your new situation ahead of time.
It can also help to have a partner, a friend, or another caregiver who can help take care of the baby while you are depressed. If you are feeling depressed during pregnancy or after having a baby, dont suffer alone. Tell a loved one and call your doctor right away.
What Causes Postpartum Depression
The exact cause isnt known. Hormone levels change during pregnancy and right after childbirth. Those hormone changes may produce chemical changes in the brain. This plays a part in causing depression.
Postpartum depression is more likely to occur if you have had any of the following:
- Previous postpartum depression.
- A difficult or very stressful marriage or relationship.
- Few family members or friends to talk to or depend on.
- Stressful life events during pregnancy or after childbirth .
What Is Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum psychosis is rare. It happens in up to 4 new mothers out of every 1,000 births. It usually begins in the first 2 weeks after childbirth. It is a medical emergency. Women who have bipolar disorder or another mental health condition called schizoaffective disorder have a higher risk of postpartum psychosis. Symptoms may include:
- Seeing or hearing things that arent there
- Feeling confused most of the time
- Having rapid mood swings within several minutes
- Trying to hurt yourself or your baby
- Restlessness or agitation
- Behaving recklessly or in a way that is not normal for you
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Talking To Your Health Care Provider About Your Mental Health
Communicating well with your doctor health care provider can improve your care and help you both make good choices about your health. Read our Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit. For additional resources, including questions to ask your doctor, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
If You Have Ppd What Can You Do To Help You Feel Better
Heres what you can do to help the treatment from your provider work better:
Stay healthy and fit.
- Do something active every day. Go for a walk or get back to the gym.
- Eat healthy foods. These include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and lean meats. Try to eat fewer sweets and salty snacks.
- Get as much rest as you can. Try to sleep when your baby sleeps.
- Dont drink alcohol. This includes beer, wine, wine coolers and liquor. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can slow your body down and make you feel more depressed. It also can interact with the medicine youre taking for PPD. Its never a good idea to drink alcohol if youre breastfeeding. This is because you can pass alcohol to your baby through your breast milk.
- Dont take street drugs. These affect the way your body works and can cause problems with the medicine youre taking for PPD. You also can pass street drugs to your baby through breast milk.
Ask for and accept help.
- Keep in touch with people you care about and who care about you. Tell your partner, family and friends how youre feeling.
- Take time for yourself. Ask someone you trust to watch the baby so you can get out of the house. Visit a friend, get outside or do something you enjoy. Plan for some time alone with your partner.
- Let others help around the house. Ask your friends and family to watch the baby, help with housekeeping or go grocery shopping. Dont be afraid to tell them what you need.
Reduce your stress.
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How Depression Affects Fathers
According to a 2010 studyexternal icon using data from 1993 to 2007, approximately 4% of fathers experience depression in the first year after their childs birth. By a childs 12th birthday, about 1 out of 5 fathers will have experienced one or more episodes of depression. Younger fathers, those with a history of depression, and those experiencing difficulties affording items such as a home or car were most likely to experience depression.
Postpartum Depression By The Numbers
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 20% of new mothers experience one or more symptoms of postpartum depression, that number may be higher or lower based on where you live, your age, your risk factors, and your race/ethnicity.6
In some states, as many as one in five women experience PPD. You can view your states prevalence using the CDCs Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System .
- Asian women
- Women younger than 19 years old
What may be even more of a surprise is that men can develop postpartum depression, too . According to a study of several thousand people in the UK, and published in JAMA Pediatrics, one study, an estimated 4% of fathers experience depression in the first year after their child is born. Fathers who are young or have a history of depression may be more at risk. Both men and women need treatment to alleviate depression in the postpartum period, and the potential treatments are similar for both genders.
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Can Postpartum Depression Be Prevented Or Avoided
Postpartum depression cannot be prevented or avoided. However, if you have a history of depression or postpartum depression after giving birth to other children, you can prepare. Preparation might include keeping your mind and body healthy. Eat healthy during your pregnancy, exercise, and learn stress reduction strategies. Once you baby is born, stay away from alcohol and caffeine. Continue to make healthy lifestyle decisions. See your doctor earlier in your pregnancy or sooner after giving birth if you are worried you will have postpartum depression.
Additionally, the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends screening for depression in the general adult population. This includes pregnant and postpartum women. Screening efforts should focus on ensuring accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and appropriate follow up.
Ppd Can Affect Your Quality Of Life
Postpartum depression can do more than just affect your mood. It can make it hard to hold down your job once you are ready to return to work. It can also impact your relationship with your partner or make it hard to connect with other friends and family members. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that when a new mother develops prolonged postpartum depression their partner is twice as likely to also develop depression issues. Disconnection with your partner, friends, and family members can lead to intense feelings of loneliness, which further compound the emotional and physiological components of postpartum depression.
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What Is Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that happen in some women after giving birth. According to the DSM-5, a manual used to diagnose mental disorders, PPD is a form of major depression that begins within 4 weeks after delivery. The diagnosis of postpartum depression is based not only on the length of time between delivery and onset but on the severity of the depression.
Postpartum depression is linked to chemical, social, and psychological changes that happen when having a baby. The term describes a range of physical and emotional changes that many new mothers experience. PPD can be treated with medication and counseling.
The chemical changes involve a rapid drop in hormones after delivery. The actual link between this drop and depression is still not clear. But what is known is that the levels of estrogen and progesterone, the female reproductive hormones, increase tenfold during pregnancy. Then, they drop sharply after delivery. By 3 days after a woman gives birth, the levels of these hormones drop back to what they were before pregnancy.
In addition to these chemical changes, the social and psychological changes of having a baby create an increased risk of depression.
Dads arenât immune. Research shows that about 1 in 10 new fathers get depression during the year their child is born.
Treatment Of Postpartum Depression Is Critical
If you or someone you know is showing signs of postpartum depression , seek help right away. Left untreated, PDD can seriously harm a mothers health. She may not eat well or lack the energy to care for her child. She may even start to think about hurting herself or her baby. Experts have also noted behavioral problems and developmental delays in infants whose mothers have PDD.
Some women, though, are too embarrassed to seek treatment. After giving birth, they think they should be feel joy, not sadness. But, as noted, postpartum depression is a common condition affecting more than 10 percent of mothers. You are not alone.
Treatment for postpartum depression is counseling, antidepressant medicine, or both:
- Counseling/Talk Therapy involves talking one-on-one with a mental health professional. The goal is to help the patient understand their feelings and to develop coping skills. Groups sessions are also a possible form of treatment.
- Antidepressant medications act on the chemicals in the brain that affect mood and its regulation. These medications are generally considered safe to use during breastfeeding, but a woman should talk to her health care provider about the risks and benefits to both herself and her baby.
In addition, support from the new mothers spouse, friends and family are also very important. They can encourage her to talk with a health professional, offer emotional support, and help with caring for the baby or the home.
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How Is Ppd Treated
If you think you may have PPD, see your health care provider right away. Your provider can be:
- Your prenatal care provider. This is the provider who gave you medical care during pregnancy.
- Your primary care provider. This is your main health care provider who gives you general medical care.
- A mental health provider. This may be a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, counselor or a therapist.
- Your babys health care provider
To find out if you have PPD, your provider asks you questions about how youre feeling. He wants to know if your feelings are causing problems in how you care for yourself and your baby. He may ask you to fill out a form called a depression screening questionnaire. Your answers on the form can help him find out if you have PPD.
Your provider may do tests to see if you have other health problems that may lead to PPD. For example, he may check your thyroid hormones. Low levels of thyroid hormones may lead to PPD.
The sooner you see your provider about PPD, the better. You can get started on treatment so you can take good care of yourself and your baby. Treatment can include:
- Counseling, like CBT and IPT
- Support groups. These are groups of people who meet together or go online to share their feelings and experiences about certain topics. Ask your provider or counselor to help you find a PPD support group.
- Medicine. PPD often is treated with medicine.
Medicines to treat PPD include:
If youre taking medicine for PPD:
So What Does That Mean For You
Scientific evidence can offer a lot of insight, but it cant capture the experience of postpartum depression for everyone.
No matter how it shows up for you, know that postpartum depression is, in fact, a mental health condition.
Depression has nothing to do with your parenting skills or capabilities. Your symptoms are nothing to feel guilty about.
How long postpartum depression lasts may depend on many factors. Its not a matter of motivation or your will to get better.
Yet without help and support, you might continue to live with feelings of sadness, fatigue, and overwhelm. You might find it difficult to bond with your baby or connect with loved ones.
Sometimes, untreated depression may also lead to thoughts of harming others or yourself.
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How Is Postpartum Depression Diagnosed
Schedule a visit with your doctor if you suspect you have postpartum depression. Your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and feelings. He or she will ask you how long you have been feeling depressed. Your doctor may ask you to complete a questionnaire about your depression or order a blood test to check your hormone levels.
Can Ppd Affect Your Baby
Yes. PPD can make it hard for you to care for yourself and your baby. This is why its important to treat PPD as soon as possible. If PPD is untreated:
- You may skip your postpartum checkups and not follow instructions from your health care provider.
- You may find it hard to bond with your baby.
- Your baby may not breastfeed long. PPD may make it hard for you and your baby to get used to breastfeeding. Breast milk is the best food for your baby through the first year of life.
- Your baby may not get medical care he needs. PPD may make it hard for you to take care of your baby if shes sick. You may not see health problems in your baby that need quick attention and care. It may be hard for you to get your baby regular well-baby care, like vaccinations. Vaccinations help protect your baby from harmful infections.
- Your baby may have learning, behavior and development problems and mental health conditions later in life.
Getting treatment for PPD can help you feel better and be able to care for your baby. If you think you have PPD, tell your provider.
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When Should You Call Your Doctor
911, your provincial health information line, or other emergency services right away if:
- You or someone you know is thinking seriously of suicide or has recently tried suicide. Serious signs include these thoughts:
- You have decided how to kill yourself, such as with a weapon or medicines.
- You have set a time and place to do it.
- You think there is no other way to solve the problem or end the pain.
- You hear voices.
- You have been thinking about death or suicide a lot, but you do not have a suicide plan.
- You are worried that your feelings of depression or thoughts of suicide aren’t going away.
Seek care soon if:
Postpartum Depression Signs And Symptoms
Symptoms of postpartum depression can be hard to detect. Many women have these symptoms following childbirth:
- Trouble sleeping
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Thoughts of hurting someone else
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
Symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder that are new rarely occur in the postpartum period . The obsessions are usually related to concerns about the baby’s health or irrational fears of harming the baby. Panic disorder may also happen. You can have these conditions and depression at the same time.
Untreated postpartum depression can be dangerous for new moms and their children. A new mom should seek professional help when:
- Symptoms persist beyond 2 weeks
- They canât function normally
- They can’t cope with everyday situations
- They have thoughts of harming themselves or their baby
- They’re feeling extremely anxious, scared, and panicked most of the day
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Can You Prevent Postpartum Depression
Because depression during pregnancy or a past incident of postpartum depression are two of the main risk factors for PPD, your doctor may recommend that you continue treatment for depression throughout pregnancy if you have a history of either condition to help reduce your risk of developing postpartum depression.
Risk Factors For Long Term Depression
Researchers have also identified some risk factors for long term postpartum depression, noting that it is often a continuation of preexisting depression, rather than a new set of symptoms that starts at delivery.
Other factors that appeared to play a role include:
- a poor relationship with a partner
- a history of sexual abuse
Some studies suggested that depression was more likely to affect women who are young, on a low income, or from a minority background, but the data were less consistent for these findings.
Ill health in the child did not seem to increase the risk of long term postpartum depression.
The researchers urged doctors to be ready to spot the signs that postpartum depression is becoming chronic and to take into account the wider factors that may contribute to depression.
They also called for further studies on the causes of postpartum depression and its likely duration.
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Why Postpartum Treatment Is So Important
If you think you have postpartum depression, it’s critical that you talk about it with your practitioner and your partner and/or other loved ones.
Left untreated, PPD can last for several months or sometimes even longer, and affect your relationship with your baby and others.
Experts believe that untreated postpartum depression may increase the chance of a baby having language delays, increased crying and behavior problems. And the possible long-term complications of untreated PPD are the same as in major depression which includes being at risk of harming yourself or your baby.
For all these reasons, its extremely important to seek help rather than try to wait it out or deal with it on your own. If youre having serious symptoms for more than a few weeks, chances are they wont go away without professional attention, so dont wait to see if they do.
The good news is that once postpartum depression is diagnosed, there are many safe and effective treatment options.