6 Facts About Postpartum Depression

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Postpartum depression is any moderate or severe depression experienced by the mother in the weeks and months following birth.  It is a common occurrence in new moms, which is important to remember if you’re having these sorts of feelings.  After birth, the body is going through a drastic change in estrogen levels, which can cause mood swings.  Also, the psychological adjustments of becoming a mother and the fatigue from childbirth can easily contribute to these feelings of anxiety and depression.

Still, it’s good to remind yourself that if you are feeling some form of postpartum mood imbalance, you’re not alone.  Here are 6 surprising facts about postpartum depression.

  1. 10-20% of new moms experience postpartum depression.  Even in women who haven’t experienced depression or anxiety in the past, PPD can still occur.  But as many as 1 in 5 moms will have some form of baby blues after birth.
  2. Your body is nearing the end of a hormonal roller coaster – Estrogen levels spike during pregnancy, then abruptly drop a few days after birth.  Your estrogen levels will be as low as they will ever be until you hit menopause during this time.  This will affect your ability to regulate your mood.
  3. PPD may be more common if you have a boy – One University study showed that moms who gave birth to boys are 79% more likely to experience postpartum depression.
  4. PPD is more common if you have a history of depression – If you or a family member has experienced depression in the past, your risk for postpartum depression goes up.  Also those diagnosed with bipolar disorder are especially at risk.  
  5. PPD is more common in younger, first time mothers – Risk for postpartum depression was highest among 18-24 year olds (10%) and then steadily declined as age groups increased according to this study.  PPD was significantly higher for first time moms.  
  6. Moms of twins have higher risk of postpartum depression – According to that same study, 11.3% of mothers with twins experienced PPD symptoms compared to 8.3% of single-child mothers.

Once you better understand the causes and risks of postpartum depression, you’ll be able to better manage these feelings when they come.  It can take 6 months to a year for the body’s hormone levels to return back to normal after pregnancy, but they eventually will.  In the meantime try to get some rest, take care of yourself, and enlist the help of your support group around you.  There are postpartum support groups online to help you learn more about postpartum depression.  Knowledge is power!

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