Holding your baby for the first time is said to be one of the most memorable experiences a new mother will go through. Many new moms don’t get to experience this overwhelming burst of joy or later joys as the baby develops: first smile, first giggle/laugh, funny poop faces and milestones like rolling over or sucking thumbs.
Postpartum depression (PPD) can hit moms suddenly and be long lasting. It affects as many as 15% of new mothers.1 PPD doesn’t discriminate and has affected celebrities including Chrissy Teigen, Adele and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
PPD is typically described as extreme sadness, fatigue, and anxiety or nervousness, which interferes with one’s daily activities. The main cause is a sudden change in hormones after delivery, combined with extreme lack of sleep most new mothers need to recover. Despite what many people think, postpartum depression is not caused by anything the mother did or did not do during or after pregnancy. This is important to note as many mothers blame themselves and symptoms can worsen.
PPD is not to be confused with the “baby blues” which occurs in 80% of new mothers, lasts one to two weeks and resolves on its own. “Baby blues” include milder symptoms of worry, unhappiness, and tiredness.
The most common symptoms of postpartum depression include:1
Feeling sad, hopeless, anxious, or worrying more than usual
Crying more than usual or for no reason
Feeling moody, irritable, or restless
Oversleeping or being unable to sleep
Difficulty concentrating and unclear memory
Experiencing anger or rage
Loss of interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
Having physical aches and pains, including frequent headaches, stomach problems, and muscle pain
Withdrawing from friends and family
Difficulty bonding with the baby
Persistently doubting her ability to care for her baby
Thoughts of self harm and/or harming the baby
The two primary recommended treatments for PPD are talk therapy and mediations, which can be used independently or together. A great adjunct to these is physical therapy and exercise which can significantly reduce the severity of symptoms in patients with PPD.2
Without treatment, postpartum depression can persist for longer periods of time and can interfere with the new mother’s ability to bond with and take care of child.
If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, call your doctor to receive a full evaluation and begin treatment, as necessary.
1. American Physical Therapy Association. (2010, March 23). Physical therapy exercise program can reduce risk of postnatal depression in new mothers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 28, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100322182026.htm
2. National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Postpartum Depression Facts. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml