Postpartum depression is a common and sometimes severe form of depression that affects new mothers at epidemic proportions. It is estimated that up to 30% of women experience postpartum depression, making it a major public health concern that deserves far more attention. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and treatments for postpartum depression, providing you with the knowledge you need to understand and manage this condition.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a type of depression that occurs after during the perinatal period. It not only encompasses postpartum but also pregnancy. Although not recognized yet, it should also include weaning depression. It is characterized by feelings of sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion, and can last for several weeks or months. Unlike the “baby blues,” which are experienced by up to 80% of new mothers and usually resolve within two weeks, postpartum depression is a more serious condition that requires effective support tools and care.
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
The study of postpartum depression is relatively new and still ever evolving. As I explain thoroughly in the Perinatal Mental Health Certificate Training, there are both internal and external factors that contribute to depression, all which are greatly linked together.
Essentially, postpartum depression is multi-factorial and requires many solutions.
Some quick facts for you:
- Not a single study shows that depression begins in the brain. Depression is a symptom that is a secondary symptom.
- Depression should be categorized with other inflammatory disorders. Psychoneuroimmunology is new science that connects gut, brain, and immune system.
- If medications worked to heal, the rates of postpartum depression should go down. It hasn’t. They’ve tripled.
- Serotonin imbalance is not longer the acceptable science. We now know that this is not the cause of depression.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
The symptoms of postpartum depression can vary from woman to woman, but common symptoms include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, and irritability
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Difficulty sleeping or excessive sleeping
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Thoughts of harm to oneself or the baby
If you suspect you may be suffering from postpartum depression, it is important to seek help. Reach out to a trained provider who will listen to your needs and support your WHOLE-BODY in not just coping but healing.
Here are Postpartum University, we take healing very seriously. Sometimes medications and counseling are a critical part of coping so that you can heal your body. The step of HEALING is an ongoing process that is usually missed entirely. Understanding how your body functions and how to support it is important, but having actionable tools is critical and life-changing. In my book, Reclaiming Postpartum Wellness, we give you a step-by-step approach to whole-body healing.
Supporting a Loved One with Postpartum Depression
If you know someone who is struggling with postpartum depression, there are several ways you can help:
- Listen and offer emotional support
- Encourage them to seek medical treatment
- Offer to help with household tasks or care for the baby
- Encourage healthy lifestyle habits, such as exercise and stress management
- Make them a delicious nutrient dense meal
What you do, don’t say “let me know if you need anything”. A new mama always needs something, no matter if she has depression or not, and will likely never ask for help. A good friend shows up no matter what.
- “I’m making you a meal. Any food allergies I need to know about?”
- “I’m going to leave you Starbucks at your door. What do you normally order?”
- “Motherhood is the hardest. How are you? No. Really. How are you? Tell me everything.”
- “Have you gotten in a shower and nap yet? When can I come over and give you some breathing room?”
- Tips to Avoid Postpartum Anxiety and Depression: Ep81
- Pregnancy Depression with Angela Mancini: Ep72
- What Postpartum Depression Feels Like: Ep55
- How you Develop Depression, Anxiety, and Autoimmune Disease in Postpartum: Podcast EP8