04 Oct Postpartum Depression: What you Need to Know
Depression during pregnancy and postpartum is the most common mental health condition
Being pregnant and becoming a parent is often a time of joy and excitement. It can also be a time of worry and doubt, especially if this is your first time becoming a parent.5. Postpartum depression, also known as PPD, affects women during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Women with PPD often have intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, or despair that prevent them from being able to do their daily tasks.4 PPD is the most common mental health condition impacting women of reproductive age. One in four women have PPD.3 PPD is never your fault.
PPD is one of several mood disorders that women can experience during or after pregnancy. For more information on other mental health conditions, check out this information in Mommyato.
How do I know if I have Baby Blues or PPD?
Baby blues usually occurs a few days after giving birth. Women with baby blues may have the same signs as PPD; however, these symptoms go away on their own in about 1-2 weeks. Some of the signs of baby blues include4:
- Crying for no clear reason
- Having trouble sleeping, eating, and making choices
- Questioning whether they can handle caring for a baby
- Experiencing anxiety, anger or agitation
Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider if you are experiencing signs of baby blues. You can also learn more about strategies for addressing baby blues.
Am I at Risk for Postpartum Depression?
It is important to know the risk factors for PPD. Knowing the signs and symptoms of PPD will allow for early identification and treatment. The following are common risk factors associated with PPD.2
- A personal or family history of depression, anxiety, or postpartum depression
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD or PMS)
- Inadequate support in caring for the baby
- Financial stress
- Marital stress
- Complications in pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
- A major recent life event: loss, house move, job loss
- Mothers of multiples
- Mothers whose infants are in Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU)
- Mothers who’ve gone through infertility treatments
- Women with a thyroid imbalance
- Women with any form of diabetes (type 1, type 2 or gestational)
Be sure to discuss PPD with your healthcare provider, even if you don’t have risk factors. Share any questions or concerns you may have about PPD.
How do I know if I or someone I care about has Postpartum Depression?
PPD presents itself in many ways. Here are the most common signs and symptoms of PPD.1
Changes in your feelings:
- Feeling depressed most of the day every day
- Feeling shame, guilt or like a failure
- Feeling panicked or scared a lot of the time
- Having severe mood swings
Changes in your everyday life:
- Having little interest in things you normally like to do
- Feeling tired all the time
- Eating a lot more or a lot less than is normal for you
- Gaining or losing weight
- Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
Changes in how you think about yourself or your baby:
- Having trouble bonding with your baby
- Thinking about hurting yourself or your baby
- Thinking about suicide (killing yourself)
Assess your risk of PPD with Mommyato’s PPD assessment tool.
Getting Help for PPD
Postpartum depression is often treated with medications called antidepressants. Talk therapy is also used to treat depression, often in combination with medications.4
If you think you may have PPD, you are not alone. Getting help is essential and with treatment and support you can feel better. Call your healthcare provider right away. Do not wait for your 6-week check-up to let your provider know. If you’re worried about hurting yourself or your baby, call emergency services at 911.1
Here’s additional information on getting help.
- March of Dimes – https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/postpartum-depression.aspx
- Postpartum Support International – https://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/depression/
- Office on Women’s Health: https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/postpartum-depression
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) – https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/postpartum-depression
- The Cleveland Clinic – https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9312-postpartum-depression