Postpartum Depression – Causes, Signs And Symptoms

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laying-in-bed-depressed
Laying in bed depressed – Photo by Anna B.

Postpartum Depression is a subject no one likes to talk about but it shouldn’t be that way. We need to talk about it, address it and nip it in the bud. I’ve been there and I’ve had a few friends experience it too. Nobody should have to feel the burden of depression, let alone a new mother.

Here I will explain what postpartum depression is, the causes, signs, symptoms and when to get help. The more informed we are about this topic the better because we know when to get help before it worsens.

Postpartum depression is normal and many women experience it so please, don’t feel like you’re alone. As I said, I’ve been there.

It happened after I had my second child. The feeling was great for a few days after her birth but it hit me suddenly about a week or 2 after she was born. I just couldn’t get happy, she seemed to cry ALL THE TIME, I started to hate myself because I started feeling I wasn’t good enough to take care of her.

I was tired all the time, didn’t want to eat, just completely miserable. I wasn’t even enjoying waking up anymore. I assumed it was all just from being overtired, from having a newborn and all, but I went to see my doctor when she explained to me that what I had was actually postpartum depression.

It took me months of feeling like that before going to my doctor though and one thing I can say is, please, don’t wait like I did. Get to a doc as soon as possible because it could get much worse. She prescribed me an anti-depressant and it made a world of difference.

I finally felt human again.

What Causes Postpartum Depression

dark-depression
Sitting in the dark, depressed – Photo by t rin

Postpartum depression could be caused by a chemical change in your hormones. During pregnancy your progesterone and estrogen hormone levels are through the roof and then they suddenly drop. Just days after birth the hormone levels drop back down to what they were before pregnancy. This rapid drop in hormones plays with your mind.

Another reason could be social changes associated with having a newborn. If you’re used to being around friends and family or going out often then suddenly you’re cooped up in the house then this can trigger depression.

Not having time for yourself is another trigger. You’re used to taking care of yourself, showering, taking a bath, doing your hair and makeup or just having a “you” day and now you’re too tired to do that. Maybe your baby is fussy so you have a hard time putting baby down to have even just an hour to yourself.

For me it was the fact that she would breastfeed every 2 hours for 45 minutes at a time. I couldn’t do anything and since dad can’t breastfeed he couldn’t help. I tried to pump so dad could help but she refused to take any bottle. The feeling like she was just against me, she wouldn’t cooperate with anything I tried. She wouldn’t even take a soother!

Signs And Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression

This area gets tricky. The “baby blues” which is normal

crying
Depressed and crying with hand over face – Photo by Nihan Aydin

after birth and does go away on its own mimics the same symptoms as postpartum depression but there are a few differences.

Here are the symptoms accompany both:

  • Frequent mood swings
  • Feeling exhausted
  • Decreased libido
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Appetite changes (eating more or less than usual)

Here are the symptoms that’s accompany postpartum depression:

  • Depressed mood
  • Inability to feel pleasure in things that used to please you
  • Feeling worthless
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Thoughts of hurting others

If you feel any of these symptoms it definitely calls for a trip to the doctor as soon as possible to get help.

Risk Factors For Getting Postpartum Depression

There are a few risk factors that can play a role in your chances of getting postpartum depression.

Here are those risk factors:

  • Living alone
  • Mixed feelings about the pregnancy
  • Marital conflict
  • Having a history of depression
  • Your age; you’re more susceptible the younger you are
  • Number of children you have; you’re more susceptible in subsequent births
  • You have a poor support network

These are just to name a few of the higher risk factors.

sad
Depressed, sad – Photo by Vanessa Hauck

Tips To Help You With Coping

There are many things you can do in order to cope with feelings of postpartum depression and to help not get it at all.

Here’s a list of things you can do to either alleviate or avoid the feelings of postpartum depression;

  • Screen calls and limit visits. If you feel tired and want to nap, do it. Don’t feel obligated to satisfy anyone.
  • Get some exercise. I don’t mean anything crazy, just a little walk to get some fresh air for example.
  • Sleep as much as you can or need to; your body is trying to recover.
  • Ask for help. Never, ever be afraid to ask for help, everyone loves to help with babies.
  • Eat right, try to avoid coffee and alcohol especially if you’re breastfeeding.
  • Don’t expect every day to be a good day. You will have good days and bad days and that’s totally OK and a normal part of life. Embrace the good days and conquer the bad days.

Final Words

I came close to losing a close friend due to postpartum depression. I was scared for her all the time but finally, she took my advice and went to see her doctor for help. Please, I urge you, if you’re feeling any of the symptoms of postpartum depression, go see a doctor or even go to the emergency room if the feelings are more intense. Don’t wait, your baby needs you and you ARE loved my many even if the postpartum depression is fogging your mind.

baby-holding-moms-fingers
Baby holding mom’s fingers – Photo by Adrian , Canada

One thing that my father-in-law told me actually still helps me to this day, this is what he said; “It doesn’t last forever, the time you’re going through hardship is only a tiny fraction of your life when you think about it as a whole. Once you’re my age and your kids are all grown you’ll realize that those hardships seemed to last forever but really didn’t come close to the amount of good times you had”.

Those words are what I think to myself every time I’m having a hard time with my kids and it seems so hard to just get through a day; it won’t last forever!

If you liked this feel free to leave a comment below and feel free to include experiences or advice that you have that might help another mom in need.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

All the best,

Melissa

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below and I’ll be more than happy to help!

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