Depression: Managing Postpartum Depression
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If you have the "baby blues" after childbirth, you're not alone—about half of women have a few days of mild depression after having a baby.1 However unsettling, a certain amount of insomnia, irritability, tears, overwhelmed feelings, and mood swings are normal. Baby blues usually peak around the fourth postpartum day and subside in less than 2 weeks, when hormonal changes have settled down. But you can have bouts of baby blues throughout your baby's first year.
If your depressed feelings have lasted more than 2 weeks, your body isn't recovering from childbirth as expected. Postpartum depression:
To prevent serious problems for you and your baby, now is the time to work with your doctor to treat your symptoms.
If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself, your baby, or anyone else, see your doctor immediately or call
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Postpartum depression is more than a temporary feeling of sadness or lack of energy. It is a medical condition that occurs sometime in the first several months after childbirth. It seems to be triggered by normal hormonal changes after pregnancy. These hormonal changes are especially likely to lead to postpartum depression if you've had depression before, are under a lot of additional stress, or have poor support from your partner, friends, or family.2
You probably have postpartum depression if you've had five or more of the following symptoms (including at least one of the first two symptoms) for most of each day over the past 2 weeks:2
If you think you may have postpartum depression, take a short quiz to check your symptoms:
Early treatment is important for both you and your baby.
Test Your Knowledge
I know I'm supposed to be happy about having a baby, but I feel hopeless and unhappy. But I don't have all of the symptoms on the list. Should I see my doctor?
I've never had a problem with depression before. Do I have any risk of postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression affects both you and your baby. It interferes with your ability to function normally, including caring for and bonding with your baby. Babies of depressed mothers tend to lag behind developmentally in behavior and mental ability.2
Antidepressant medicine and counseling are effective ways to treat postpartum depression. Some medicines are thought to be safe for use during breast-feeding.
Test Your Knowledge
I'll get along just fine if I wait out postpartum depression.
Depression is a medical condition that requires treatment. It's not a sign of weakness. Be honest with yourself and those who care about you. Tell them about your struggle. You, your doctor, and your friends and family can team up to treat your postpartum depression symptoms.
Talk to your doctor about your postpartum depression (PPD) symptoms, and decide what type of treatment is right for you. (You may also have your thyroid function checked, to make sure a thyroid problem isn't causing your symptoms.) Treatment options include:
Breast-feeding babies whose mothers take an antidepressant do not often have side effects. But they can. If you are taking an antidepressant while breast-feeding, talk to your doctor and your baby's doctor about what types of side effects to look for.
Home treatment measures may also be helpful.
Test Your Knowledge
If I'm not willing to take an antidepressant medicine, there's really no point in talking to my doctor.
I have an antidepressant that I took before pregnancy, but I should check with my doctor before taking it again for postpartum depression.
Now that you have read this information about postpartum depression, you can take action, work with your doctor, and ask family and friends to support you along the way.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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