After delivering a baby, it is common for women to struggle with sadness, hopelessness, and other depressive feelings. Fortunately, these depressive feelings and thoughts typically dissipate within weeks of delivery for most women.
But for about 10% of moms, the "baby blues" continue for a prolonged period and well beyond the initial days of their newborn's life. This condition is known as postpartum depression, or PPD.
Almost 50% of women with newborns experience varying degrees of depression, commonly known as "baby blues," after delivery. For these women, their symptoms start a few days to weeks after birth, and last for a few days or weeks. Good nutrition, sleep, and family support are common antidotes for the "baby blues."
In contrast, postpartum depression is a form of major depression that normally begins for women anywhere from a month to one to two years after delivery. And unlike the "baby blues," more than just a good diet, ample rest, and support from friends and family is needed to treat postpartum depression.
Common postpartum depression symptoms are the same symptoms that anyone suffering from major depression must deal with. This includes:
- Anxiety and agitation
- Considerable weight loss or weight gain
- Decreased interest or pleasure in daily activities
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy
- Mental slowness and an inability to concentrate
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Postpartum depression is treated using a combination of counseling and support groups and medication. Rest, family and friend support, and a break from major life changes such as moving homes or starting a new job are also important and can help an individual to successfully treat her postpartum depression.
Seeking professional help
Many women with postpartum depression choose not to speak up about their struggles. One particular study found that up to 80% of women with postpartum depression had not talked to a physician about their condition. It is important for women struggling with postpartum depression to get help.
If you feel that you or a loved one needs to see an Intermountain Healthcare provider for help in treating postpartum depression, find a doctor or location below.
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