Frequently Asked Questions Expand All
- What are the baby blues?
About 23 days after childbirth, some women begin to feel depressed, anxious, and upset. They may feel angry with the new baby, their partners, or their other children. They also may:
Cry for no clear reason
Have trouble sleeping, eating, and making choices
Question whether they can handle caring for a baby
These feelings, often called the baby blues, may come and go in the first few days after childbirth.
The baby blues usually get better within a few days or 12 weeks without any treatment.
Women with postpartum depression have intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, or despair that prevent them from being able to do their daily tasks.
Postpartum depression can occur up to 1 year after having a baby, but it most commonly starts about 13 weeks after childbirth.
Postpartum depression probably is caused by a combination of factors. These factors include the following:
Changes in hormone levelsLevels of estrogen and progesterone decrease sharply in the hours after childbirth. These changes may trigger depression in the same way that smaller changes in hormone levels trigger mood swings and tension before menstrual periods.
National Womens Health Information Center
Treatments For Postnatal Depression
Postnatal depression can be lonely, distressing and frightening, but support and effective treatments are available.
- self-help things you can try yourself include talking to your family and friends about your feelings and what they can do to help, making time for yourself to do things you enjoy, resting whenever you get the chance, getting as much sleep as you can at night, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet
- psychological therapy a GP may be able to recommend a self-help course or may refer you for a course of therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy
- antidepressants these may be recommended if your depression is more severe or other treatments have not helped your doctor can prescribe a medicine that’s safe to take while breastfeeding
What’s The Difference Between Postpartum Depression And The Baby Blues
Though “postpartum depression” and “the baby blues” are sometimes used interchangeably, theyre two distinct conditions:
- The baby blues are very common, experienced by as many as an estimated 80 percent of new moms. After giving birth, women with the baby blues feel weepy, irritable, exhausted and anxious, and also have trouble sleeping. The baby blues usually begin within a few days postpartum and fade within two weeks.
- Postpartum depression symptoms are often similar to those of the baby blues which is why many women have trouble determining which one theyre experiencing. But while the baby blues last for only a short time and symptoms tend to be mild, postpartum depression symptoms can begin anytime within the first year after birth from right after birth to when you get your first period postpartum or wean your baby off breastfeeding. Postpartum depression symptoms tend to be both more pronounced and more enduring, lasting weeks, months or even a year or longer.
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Coping With Postpartum Depression Tip : Create A Secure Attachment With Your Baby
The emotional bonding process between mother and child, known as attachment, is the most important task of infancy. The success of this wordless relationship enables a child to feel secure enough to develop fully, and affects how he or she will interact, communicate, and form relationships throughout life.
A secure attachment is formed when you as the mother respond warmly and consistently to your babys physical and emotional needs. When your baby cries, you quickly soothe him or her. If your baby laughs or smiles, you respond in kind. In essence, you and your child are in sync. You recognize and respond to each others emotional signals.
Postpartum depression can interrupt this bonding. Depressed mothers can be loving and attentive at times, but at other times may react negatively or not respond at all. Mothers with postpartum depression tend to interact less with their babies, and are less likely to breastfeed, play with, and read to their children. They may also be inconsistent in the way they care for their newborns.
However, learning to bond with your baby not only benefits your child, it also benefits you by releasing endorphins that make you feel happier and more confident as a mom.
Postpartum Depression Risk Factors
Some factors seem to put women at higher risk for developing postpartum depression. But even if you do have some risk factors, it doesnt mean youll definitely get postpartum depression. Also keep in mind that some women without these risk factors develop the condition, too.
Postpartum depression risk factors include the following:
- A personal or family history of depression, depression during pregnancy, postpartum depression, severe PMS, bipolar disorder or other psychiatric illness
- A history of alcohol or drug abuse
- Stressful events within a year of childbirth, such as illness, job loss or death of a loved one
- Medical complications during pregnancy or delivery
- Financial or relationship problems
- Little or no social support
- Caring for a chronically ill baby
- Having a preterm baby
- Having a baby who’s been hospitalized
- Giving birth to multiples, such as twins or triplets
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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.
Baby Blues Or Postpartum Depression
Almost every new mother up to 85 percent of them will experience the postpartum blues. You may feel happy one minute and overwhelmed and crying the next.
No mother is happy all the time, says Osborne. Its normal to be frustrated and even need to put the baby down sometimes.
If symptoms are severe or last for more than two weeks, a new mom should be concerned about a postpartum mood disorder, such as postpartum depression. Women who had anxiety or depression before giving birth are at higher risk. The signs and symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Intrusive thoughts
People tend to think of depression as sadness, but thats not always the case, Osborne says. Particularly in the postpartum period, theres a lot of anxiety and irritability, plus lack of sleep, which is a huge risk factor for postpartum depression.
And while its not necessarily a symptom of depression to be sleeping poorly with a newborn, it can make postpartum depression symptoms worse.
Theres good news on the research front, however. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Womens Mood Disorders Center identified epigenetic biomarkers differences in the activity of certain genes that predict whos most likely at risk for postpartum depression.
A Woman’s Journey
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Tip : Take Care Of Yourself
One of the best things you can do to relieve or avoid postpartum depression is to take care of yourself. The more you care for your mental and physical well-being, the better youll feel. Simple lifestyle changes can go a long way towards helping you feel like yourself again.
Skip the housework Make yourself and your baby the priority. Give yourself permission to concentrate on yourself and your baby there is more work involved in this 24/7 job than in holding down a full-time job.
Ease back into exercise. Studies show that exercise may be just as effective as medication when it comes to treating depression, so the sooner you get back up and moving, the better. No need to overdo it: a 30-minute walk each day will work wonders. Stretching exercises such as those found in yoga have shown to be especially effective.
Practice mindfulness meditation. Research supports the effectiveness of meditation for making you feel calmer and more energized. It can also help you to become more aware of what you need and what you feel.
Dont skimp on sleep. A full eight hours may seem like an unattainable luxury when youre dealing with a newborn, but poor sleep makes depression worse. Do what you can to get plenty of restfrom enlisting the help of your partner or family members to catching naps when you can.
Get out in the sunshine. Sunlight lifts your mood, so try to get at least 10 to 15 minutes of sun per day.
Antidepressant Side Effects And Considerations
All antidepressants can cause side effects, such as:
- dry mouth
Antidepressants often take several weeks to start working, so patience is required. They must be taken exactly as prescribed, without skipping doses. Youll start with the smallest dose, but your doctor can increase the dosage a little at a time if its not working. It may take some trial and error to find the best medication and the right dosage for you. While taking antidepressants, youll need to see your doctor regularly.
If youre taking a high dose or take antidepressants for a long time, you may have to taper off when youre ready to stop. Stopping suddenly can increase side effects.
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Tip : Make Time For Your Relationship With Your Partner
More than half of all divorces take place after the birth of a child. For many couples, the relationship with their partner is their primary source of emotional expression and social connection. The demands and needs of a new baby can get in the way and fracture this relationship unless couples put some time, energy, and thought into preserving their bond.
Dont scapegoat. The stress of sleepless nights and caretaking responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. And since you cant take it out on the baby, its all too easy to turn your frustrations on your partner. Instead of finger pointing, remember that youre in this together. If you tackle parenting challenges as a team, youll become an even stronger unit.
Keep the lines of communication open. Many things change following the birth of a baby, including roles and expectations. For many couples, a key source of strain is the post-baby division of household and childcare responsibilities. Its important to talk about these issues, rather than letting them fester. Dont assume your partner knows how you feel or what you need.
Carve out some couples time. Its essential to make time for just the two of you when you can reconnect. But dont put pressure on yourself to be romantic or adventurous . You dont need to go out on a date to enjoy each others company. Even spending 15 or 20 minutes togetherundistracted and focused on each other can make a big difference in your feelings of closeness.
Is There Any Research About How Long Ppd Usually Lasts
Because PPD can appear anywhere from a couple of weeks to 12 months after birth, theres no average length of time it lasts. A 2014 review of studies suggests that PPD symptoms improve over time, with many cases of depression resolving 3 to 6 months after they begin.
That said, in that same review, it was clear that plenty of particpants were still dealing with PPD symptoms well beyond the 6-month mark.
Anywhere from 30%50% percent met criteria for PPD 1 year after giving birth, while a little less than half of the people studied were still reporting depressive symptoms 3 years postpartum.
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What Is Samhsas National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
Also visit the online treatment locators.
Coronavirus Update: How To Contact A Gp
It’s still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:
- visit their website
- a range of help and support is available, including therapy
- depression is an illness like any other
- it’s not your fault you’re depressed it can happen to anyone
- being depressed does not mean you’re a bad parent
- it does not mean you’re going mad
- your baby will not be taken away from you babies are only taken into care in very exceptional circumstances
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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.
What Is Postpartum Post
Postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder often affects women who experienced real or perceived trauma during childbirth or immediately after the baby was born. It is believed that approximately 1-6% of women experience postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder after giving birth.Traumas that might cause postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder include:
Symptoms of PPTSD may include:
- Nightmares and flashbacks to the birth or trauma
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Feeling a detachment from reality and life
- Irritability, sleeplessness, hypervigilance, startle more easily
- Avoidance of anything that brings reminders of the event such as people, places, smells, noises, feelings
- May begin re-experiencing past traumatic events, including the event that triggered the disorder
Women who are experiencing PPTSD need to talk with a health care provider about what they are feeling. With the correct treatment, these symptoms will lessen and eventually go away.
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Types Of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is an oft-neglected disorder which strikes many women after the delivery. There are mainly six types of postpartum depression and its necessary to identify them so that proper treatment is given.
After giving birth, most women feel guilty doing things they never thought they would while pregnant. She may feel guilt, regret, irritability, dread, exhausted, nauseous, angry, disconnected from the baby . Sounds like what you are going through?
About 80% of women suffer from different types of postpartum depression after delivery. The depression can manifest itself in any form such as guilt, or irritability. When the realization that the new being is here forever dawns upon you, outcomes can be opposite of what you thought. Now more than bliss it feels like a responsibility when things get real after delivery.
Baby blues and postpartum depression PPD, used interchangeably are very different. Postpartum mood disorders are of 7 different types. The forms of postpartum mood disorders include postpartum psychosis, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, and postpartum anxiety disorder.
Signs And Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression
Unlike the baby blues, postpartum depression is a more serious problemone that you shouldnt ignore.
In the beginning, postpartum depression can look like the normal baby blues. In fact, postpartum depression and the baby blues share many symptoms, including mood swings, crying jags, sadness, insomnia, and irritability. The difference is that with postpartum depression, the symptoms are more severe and longer lasting.
- You might find yourself withdrawing from your partner or being unable to bond well with your baby.
- You might find your anxiety out of control, preventing you from sleepingeven when your baby is asleepor eating appropriately.
- You might find feelings of guilt or worthlessness overwhelming or begin to develop thoughts preoccupied with death or even wish you were not alive.
These are all red flags for postpartum depression.
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is a screening tool designed to detect postpartum depression. Follow the instructions carefully. A score greater than 13 suggests the need for a more thorough assessment because you could have postpartum depression.
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What Are The Baby Blues
The baby blues are the least severe form of postpartum depression. Approximately 50% to 75% of all new mothers will experience some negative feelings after giving birth. Normally these feelings occur suddenly four to five days after the birth of the baby.The most common symptoms include:
- Crying for no apparent reason
- Mood swings with irritability and anxiousness
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Change in eating and sleeping
While these symptoms are quite unpleasant, they typically resolve on their own within a week to two weeks. Getting as much rest as possible and having a good support system can help these symptoms seem less severe.If you or someone you know is struggling with any form of postpartum depression, please contact a physician, a friend, or the American Pregnancy Association so that the appropriate help can be located.
Compiled using information from the following sources:Williams Obstetrics Twenty-Second Ed. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al, Ch. 55.MedlinePlus . Bethesda : National Library of Medicine . Postpartum Depression . Available from: Depression during and after Pregnancy Fact Sheet,