We’re led to believe that new motherhood is one of the most joyous and thrilling experiences a woman will have. New motherhood can be these things. It can also be draining and overwhelming. If you . . .
- Feel exhausted most of the time yet have trouble sleeping;
- Don’t have your normal appetite;
- Cry more easily than you normally would;
- Have unexplained anger;
- Snap at your partner or family;
- Find little joy in your days;
You may have postpartum depression.
Why Does Postpartum Depression Happen?
The feelings that are common to postpartum depression aren’t entirely abnormal. Many women have them. The difference is that some women have more of them and feel them more intensely than others. Approximately 20 percent of postpartum women develop this illness. Yes, it is a very real illness. It is also very treatable.
The factors involved in developing postpartum depression include:
- Immense changes in estrogen and progesterone levels. The dramatic drop in these hormones can directly affect mood.
- Emotional stressors. New mothers, even those who already have children, face doubts and fears. Emotional stressors may include an unplanned pregnancy and the natural adjustments to having a new baby in the home. A difficult pregnancy or birth can also create lingering stress within the nervous system.
- Fatigue. Childbirth is taxing on the body. It can take several weeks for a new mother to even begin to regain her normal energy and strength. This time can increase if a woman has had a C-section.
- Life factors. Life is stressful as it is. Big events like having a baby require a lot of support. Women with an inadequate support system have a higher risk of anxiety and depression.
- History of depression also puts a woman at an increased risk for postpartum depression.
As we mentioned, postpartum depression is treatable. The key is to avoid denying that there is a problem. In the instance of persistent sadness, anger, fatigue, and other symptoms, a woman must be her own best advocate. She must have the hard conversation about her feelings with a loved one. She must talk with her doctor. In so doing, she allows herself the opportunity to feel good again.
Postpartum depression is the most common complication following childbirth. Knowing this, a woman can hopefully avoid the shame that can come with feeling like she can’t do it all like she “should.” She can get help. This condition is often very successfully treated with antidepressant medication and therapy. Going on an antidepressant for postpartum depression does not mean medication is necessary forever. Over time and with ancillary talk therapy, a woman can find her way back to her strongest self.
Adjusting to new motherhood can take time. That said, no mother should live with the symptoms of postpartum depression. The team at Huey & Weprin Ob/Gyn loves serving women and families in the Dayton, OH area. Contact us at 937.771.5100 to schedule a visit to our Kettering or Englewood office.