What You Need to Know About Postpartum Depression

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Bringing a whole new person into the world is supposed to be a joyous occasion, so why do you feel so miserable after doing so?

You may have heard of the short-lived “baby blues,” but if you’ve felt down for two weeks or more, you may be experiencing postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression is common.

First off, know that you are not alone. In fact, postpartum depression is quite common, affecting about one in nine mothers. Perinatal depression, a term that encompasses depression both during and after pregnancy, is even more common, affecting one in five women.

Postpartum depression may be triggered by the body’s hormones. After giving birth, certain hormones rapidly drop. These drastic changes in body chemistry can result in depression symptoms.

Here are some signs and symptoms of postpartum depression:

  • Crying spells
  • Fatigue and lack of motivation
  • The trouble with concentration, memory, and decision-making
  • Change in eating and sleeping habits
  • Aches and pains
  • Thoughts of hurting your baby or yourself
  • Feeling disconnected from your baby, not wanting to take care of your baby, and losing interest in your baby
  • Feelings of guilt, like you, are a bad mother

What can you do to feel better?

If the symptoms mentioned above last for two weeks or more, you should first get in touch with your health-care provider. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it actually means you are being a strong and responsible parent, because a healthier and happier you can mean a healthier and happier baby.

Consider treatment.

If diagnosed with postpartum depression, your doctor may prescribe psychotherapy (counseling) or medications.

Psychotherapy can be helpful because it provides you a safe space, to be honest about your feelings. Talking to an unrelated third party can be cathartic. You can also take a break from childcare and troubles at home.

On the other hand, medications don’t mean you’re weak or a bad mother! As we have discussed, postpartum depression may be the result of hormonal interactions. This means postpartum depression has a significant physical component that medications may be able to treat.

If treatment gets too expensive, you can offset some of the cost by buying international or Canadian meds online through a pharmacy referral service. There, you can access substantially cheaper medications, including antidepressants like Zoloft® (sertraline), from licensed pharmacies outside the U.S.

Help yourself at home.

If medication and/or therapy is out of reach for you right now, there are also plenty of things you can do at home to help yourself feel better:

  1. Get as much rest as possible. Sleep while your baby sleeps. Your body has just gone through a very stressful event, so give it time to recover.
  2. Find other mothers to talk to. No one understands the complexity of your feelings as well as a fellow mom going through the same thing. See if there are support groups in your area, or look up communities online.
  3. Ask for help. This article raises a good point: in the olden days, when we lived with extended family in close-knit communities, we had a lot more help raising kids. After all, it takes a village to raise a child! So don’t be afraid to ask for help. Something as simple as having your dog walked, getting lunch delivered, or asking someone to do a little tidying around the house can go a long way.
  4. Find company. It’s easy to feel lonely and isolated when you’re with your baby all the time, but consider inviting a friend over. Also, make time to be with your partner. During this critical time when teamwork is so important, don’t be afraid to get a babysitter occasionally so you can prioritize your relationship.

Dads can get depressed too.

Fathers can also get overwhelmed by their parenting duties, and they can experience symptoms of depression too. If they take up more parenting duties while the mother recovers physically, they may feel tired or frustrated. If they don’t take time off work, lack of sleep can significantly affect their professional life.

This is why it’s important to keep communication open before, during, and after pregnancy. If you haven’t given birth yet, you may want to talk to your partner about what to do if someone feels depressed after the baby is born, so you have a plan in place.

So far, there hasn’t been much research on adoptive or same-sex parents, but welcoming a new family member can be daunting for everyone. So all parents should look after their mental health and the health of their relationship.

Go easy on yourself.

Finally, try not to label yourself a bad or failed mother. Childbirth is a significant event that can be taxing both physically and mentally. It’s unrealistic to expect everything will go smoothly. Sometimes, you’ll make mistakes, but being angry at yourself isn’t going to help you become a better parent. Rather, find ways to support yourself. Remember: a happier mother equals a happier child!

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