Postpartum depression

Symptoms

Postpartum depression is not the same for every woman. However, there are some signs that might help you identify whether or not you're suffering from it.

  • uncontrollable crying or persistent sadness
  • anxiety, panic attacks
  • inability to sleep despite fatigue and exhaustion
  • loss of appetite
  • restlessness
  • irritability, moodiness
  • feelings of guilt - feeling that you're a bad mother
  • lack of interest in your child
  • difficulty concentrating

Causes

The exact cause of postpartum depression isn't known but there are a few things researchers believe may trigger it, such as the rapid change in hormonal levels that occurs immediately after childbirth. And, while being a new mother may be emotionally gratifying, all the new responsibilities that come with parenthood can be overwhelming. Exhaustion from giving birth and the sleep deprivation that follows can also significantly impact your mood.

Risk factors

  • a family history of depression
  • anxiety or depression during pregnancy
  • unplanned pregnancy
  • marital problems, i.e., divorce or separation
  • unsupportive spouse or partner, parents, in-laws, or friends
  • history of severe pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • obstetrical complications
  • early childhood trauma or a history of abuse
  • major life changes such as job loss or a big move around the time of giving birth to your child

It's important to note that these risk factors do not cause postpartum depression. Many women experience a number of them and are not depressed - for others, just one or two can lead to the blues. Nonetheless, if you know you are at risk, it's worthwhile to take preventive steps before the baby is born, such as finding a support network.

The contents of this health site are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition.

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