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How To Know If You Have Postpartum Depression

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mom sitting with her baby and looking depressed

When your baby is born and you've recovered from the birth, you might find yourself feeling down and unable to sleep or crying for no apparent reason at all.

It's not uncommon -- after all, you're physically and emotionally exhausted and taking care of a brand new baby. However, some moms (as many as half!) have a more serious problem -- postpartum depression.

But how do you know if it is postpartum depression?

Baby blues happen to nearly every new mom. This is often because of a major hormone crash and the surge of hormones that occurs when a mother's milk comes in. Here's how you can tell if it’s postpartum depression? or the baby blues?

  • Postpartum depression can begin in the first few weeks or months after a baby is born. Baby blues start in the first few days after birth and don't last very long.

  • Moms with postpartum depression can feel overwhelmed by everyday tasks and bonding with their baby can be difficult.

  • Symptoms of postpartum depression including extreme mood swings, exhaustion, loneliness, irrationality, low energy levels, aggression, sadness, and feelings of anxiousness. Some moms even have thoughts of harming themselves or their babies.

Experts Explain What Is Depression

If you're wondering if you're facing postpartum depression, don't go at it alone. Help is out there if you only ask for it. There's no reason to suffer by yourself or feel ashamed of what you're experiencing. You're not a bad mother -- you just need help.

If you suspect postpartum depression, talk to your healthcare provider. He or she can direct you to a support group or even prescribe medication so that you start feeling better.

If You're a Dad And You Suspect Your Partner Is Going Through Postpartum Depression

If you think your wife or partner is suffering from postpartum depression, here are some things you can do.

  • Offer practical and emotional support. Encourage her to go out with friends and get out of the house whenever possible.

  • Encourage her to talk to her doctor. If she resists, consider calling the doctor yourself. She may be upset in the beginning, but will feel better as she gets the help she needs.

  • Understand that postpartum depression is a real problem. It's not in her head and she's not making up excuses or being lazy.

Causes of Postpartum Depression Include

  • Familial or personal history of depression.

  • Traumatic birth experience.

  • Hormonal changes.

  • Stressors throughout the last few months of pregnancy, including moving, family conflicts, or bereavement.

How to Avoid Postpartum Depression

Remember that you just gave birth to a baby. Be kind to yourself and try not to give in to the media's pressures that new moms should look like movie stars immediately after giving birth. Don't worry about being the perfect mother, the perfect wife, or having the perfect home. Instead, just focus on getting through each day in one piece.

If you do suspect you have postpartum depression, ask for help. Try to set aside time each day for you and don't forget to take care of yourself. Gentle exercise and eating a well-balanced diet can help you feel more normal, but sometimes it's necessary to turn to your doctor for help.

Women with a history of depression should prepare themselves before the birth. Have a plan in place so you can get the support you need. You may not see postpartum depression when you have it so let your friends and family members know what to look out for.

Is It Postpartum Depression? Or More?

About one in 500 women suffer from an extreme form of mental illness after the birth of their babies. It's called puerperal psychosis and it causes agitation, confusion, hallucinations, and even the urge to harm themselves or their babies. If you're worried that you may be suffering from puerperal psychosis, get help right away.

Remember, you're not alone. You will get better. It's not your fault.

 
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