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4 Things You Should Know About Postpartum Depression

Posted on Friday, March 3rd, 2023 at 12:03 am    

In the first part of our series, we talked about Postpartum Care: Taking “You” Home from the Hospital. We then moved on to Postpartum Care: When Do I Need to Call My Doctor in part two. So what’s next in the final chapter of this three-part series?

Postpartum depression. This topic requires more than just a paragraph in a postpartum care blog post. To increase awareness around this topic, we will spend this post reviewing 4 Things You Should Know About Postpartum Depression.

1. Postpartum depression is NOT the baby blues.

While you were growing your “little nugget” inside of you, there were all sorts of hormones needed to support your body and your nugget’s growth. As nugget made his or her exit on the big day, the hormones purchased their one-way ticket and started making their exit as well. This sudden withdrawal of hormones can cause changes in emotions resulting in the baby blues or postpartum depression. How will you know the difference between the two?

Baby Blues: For most women, the baby blues are experienced 2-3 days after delivery. The symptoms typically go away in 3-5 days, but they can last up to two weeks. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms women can experience are:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Crying
  • Problems concentration
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping

Postpartum Depression: Postpartum depression is NOT the baby blues. Some symptoms are similar, but postpartum depression symptoms are more intense, last longer than two weeks, and interfere with your ability to care for yourself and your baby. Symptoms of postpartum depression can even start up to one year after delivery. So don’t disregard these symptoms if they start later on. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Crying a lot
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Change in appetite (eating too much or too little)
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Loss of interest and pleasure in activities you enjoy
  • Irritability and anger
  • Feeling that you are not a good mother
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy
  • Difficulty thinking clearly, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

2. It happens more than you think.

According to the American Psychological Association, 1 in 7 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression. More than likely, someone you know has experienced this. One of the reasons why we don’t realize it is so prevalent is that we, as a society, don’t talk about it enough. Unfortunately, there is a stigma that exists about mental health. However, the more we talk about it, write about it, and sing about it from the mountaintops, we start to break down the walls of shame surrounding this disorder. As we speak up and share our personal experiences, it might touch another woman and let her know she is not alone. There is light in the darkness, and there is hope.

3. and 4. “Postpartum depression is not your fault- it is a real, but treatable, psychological disorder.”

The above quote is from a brochure by The American Psychological Association. I could not have said it better myself, and it brings up two excellent points. That’s why I had to label the section 3 AND 4!

Let’s start at three. Postpartum depression is not your fault. It does not mean you are a “bad mother” or don’t love your baby. It is a medical disorder. It is no different than other medical disorders that can occur during pregnancy that are not a woman’s fault. No one blames a woman for having pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy) or gestational diabetes.

Therefore, you should not blame yourself for having postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is NOT YOUR FAULT.

The fourth item you should know about postpartum depression is that there are treatments available. Here are a few that your doctor might discuss with you:

Antidepressants. Antidepressants can be prescribed by your OB/GYN or your Primary Care doctor. They can help you feel a little more like yourself as your body transitions during this time. It doesn’t mean you will be on this medication for the rest of your life. But, when you and your doctor decide you are ready to be off them, it is important not to stop them abruptly. You will need to wean from them under the guidance of your physician. And yes, there are options that are safe to use while breastfeeding!

Therapy. Talking to a trained professional is another option. Not only does this provide a safe, judgement-free zone to express how you are feeling, but therapists can also provide you with coping techniques to navigate this tumultuous time.

Support groups. Speaking with others who are going through or have made it through postpartum depression can be therapeutic. There is just something comforting about being around others who have been where you have been. It can be a source of hope and encouragement. There are in-person and online groups available. Postpartum Support International is an organization that offers resources, including on-line support groups, to women and families affected by postpartum depression. For more information about the Texas Chapter, please visit https://psichapters.com/tx/.

Well, there you have it! Our journey through the postpartum period is complete. We reviewed what to expect after delivery, when to call your doctor, and what to know about postpartum depression. I hope this information answers some of your questions about the postpartum period. But if you have other questions, check out the Education tab on our website, www.WHSNT.com, to find out more about the postpartum period and other topics.

Until next time, be well, and be sure to show yourself grace and love.

-Dr. Kristin Williams

Medical Director of Women’s Health Specialists of North Texas

About the author: Dr. Kristin Williams is a board-certified OB/GYN. She graduated from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. After completing one year of training at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, Dr. Williams moved to Dallas, Texas to complete her residency at Parkland Hospital. She worked in private practice with Women’s Health Specialists of North Texas for 16 years and now serves as the Medical Director.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. All calls and texts are confidential, and help is available 24/7 for those experiencing suicidal thoughts or mental health-related distress.

This blog provides general information and discussions about health and related topics. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. This information is not a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, please consult with your healthcare provider, or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking care based on the information you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call or go to the Emergency Room or dial 9-1-1.