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Pregnancy and Postpartum Depression

Having a baby is one of the most joyful experiences a woman can have. But for some new mothers, the days and weeks after childbirth can be anything but happy. They may feel sad, anxious, or even panicked. This is called postpartum depression, and it’s a real and serious condition.


There is a common belief that childbirth is meant to be a magical time, that maternal feelings, knowledge, and joy will just appear as soon as you have a child. Society places a lot of pressure on the miracle of childbirth and how amazing it can be but doesn’t talk enough about the negative things that women can experience after childbirth. Some women may feel worried, anxious, incapable of taking care of their baby, and other negative emotions. Some may feel drained and unable to care for themselves after giving birth.


For being brushed off as one of the most wonderful times in a person’s life without any possibility of complications, it's estimated that as many as 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression (PPD) symptoms in the first few months after giving birth! Of course, there are still many others who are downright exhausted and feel unable to function as they did before following the birth of their child, too. Babies take a lot of work. It’s not easy being a new mother and it would be a whole lot more helpful if there was more open discussion around the struggles that new mothers face.

Some common signs of postpartum depression are feeling empty, sad, or overwhelmed, irritable or moody. Symptoms may also include crying for no apparent reason and having difficulty with concentration. Some women may have difficulty with making decisions.


Behaviors may change, such as not enjoying activities previously enjoyed or withdrawing from family and friends. Women may also express or feel that they are unable to care for their baby. Moreover, PPD can affect first-time mothers as well as seasoned mothers. This means, a mom who already has two kids may develop it after the third. It’s unpredictable and can crop up at any time.


Some mothers find it so difficult to care for their newborn that they end up having their child removed from their home. This, of course, only compounds depression symptoms. Driving a wedge into a family makes the situation more complicated.


There are a few risk factors that put someone at a higher risk of having postpartum depression. For example, having a personal history or a family history of depression or other mental health issues. If a woman had previous problems with another pregnancy or birth or if she experienced during pregnancy, she may be at a higher risk. Environmental and social factors, such as having an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, being a younger mom, alcohol or drug use, or lack of support from family and friends can also lead to a greater risk of developing postpartum depression.


PPD doesn’t only affect the new mother, but it has a significant impact on anyone else within her intimate space. This might include a partner or other children or anyone else the mother is living with. Of course, it has a negative impact on the newborn as well, who is fully dependent on its mother and her support system for survival.


While all of the factors behind a case of PPD may be difficult to pinpoint, pre-existing genes, hormone fluctuations and environmental issues can all be to blame. The great news is that postpartum depression is treatable. With the right counseling and medication, treatment can improve symptoms or eventually help them to go away completely. If you’re considering medication for your depression, it’s important to work with a psychiatrist or other mental health professional to find the right one and the right dosage. It’s also important to be aware of the potential side effects of any medication you’re considering.


Therapy can be an effective treatment for depression. It can help you understand your thoughts and feelings, learn new coping skills, and develop a positive outlook on life. Therapy can be done in individual, group, or family sessions. If you’re considering therapy for your depression, it’s important to find a therapist who is a good fit for you. You may want to interview several therapists before choosing one. It’s also important to be aware that therapy can take time to be effective. Changes won’t happen overnight, and it will require that you put the work in to see results.


A doctor can help you make decisions about next steps, and it is important to discuss any potential symptoms so that treatment options can be identified. Remember, you can always ask for help and you are not alone! Caring for a newborn is very difficult work and it is great to have a support system so that you can take care of yourself, get rest, eat, and sleep enough.


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