According to the National Institute for Mental Health, postpartum depression and its accompanying anxiety can affect nearly 15% of new mothers at some point during the first year after giving birth. Postpartum depression can be a very serious mood disorder and is different than having the “baby blues” that some women experience due a change in hormone levels after childbirth. In general, postpartum depression lasts longer and is more severe than the post-birth blues.
Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Symptoms
The first thing to do is recognize postpartum depression symptoms:
• Negative feelings about the baby and/or not being interested in your newborn
• Trouble sleeping
• Persistently feeling hopeless, sad, and/or despondent
• Panic attacks – rapid heartbeat, feeling shaky, dizziness *(link: http://www.drandrewrosen.com/panic-disorder-therapy/)
• Decreased energy, loss of appetite
• A loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
• Anxiety that interferes with your ability to take care of your baby
Because our society thinks that new mothers should be thrilled with their baby, we often dismiss her postpartum depression and anxiety as “just hormones” when, in fact, therapy or anxiety medication is necessary. If a woman buries her feelings because she thinks she should be happy but isn’t, postpartum depression and anxiety can become much worse over time.
Help for Postpartum Depression and Anxiety:
• Before postpartum depression and anxiety is treated, physical causes should be ruled out. A medical exam will be able to exclude hypoglycemia, thyroid deficiency, or other health conditions that can mimic postpartum depression.
• Speak to a mental health professional – many specialize in treating women with anxiety and postpartum depression. These professionals can help you develop coping strategies and can work with you and your family so they can provide further support. Additionally, therapists can determine your need for antidepressants or other medication, if your depression is severe.
• If you can’t afford a therapist, each state has county mental health facilities that can get you the help you need.
• Get as much rest and sleep as possible by sleeping when your baby sleeps.
• Eat a healthy diet and get some exercise.
• Follow your treatment plan as closely as possible.
• Don’t isolate yourself – spend time interacting with friends and family.
• Seek out a “New Mom” support group – your pediatrician or obstetrician can refer you to a nearby program if you can’t locate one on your own.
Left untreated, postpartum depression and anxiety can lead to postpartum psychosis in which you consider harming your baby, yourself, or contemplate suicide. If your symptoms do not improve or if they get worse, call a medical professional without delay.
For more information about anxiety after giving birth and postpartum depression, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.