During pregnancy, women go through many physical, emotional, and hormonal changes that can have an impact on mood. Many women suffer from temporary “baby blues” that can last from a few days to a few weeks with symptoms such as mood swings, crying, anxiety, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty concentrating.
Postpartum depression is more than just the “baby blues”. Over ten percent of mothers experience severe depression that can last up to a year after childbirth. These postpartum symptoms can include severe changes in appetite, extreme fatigue, lack of joy, low self-worth, no interest in pleasurable activities, restlessness, hopelessness, and detachment from family and friends. It is important to recognize the symptoms and know the difference so that you can seek appropriate treatment.
Women are at greater risk of developing PPD if they have one or more family members who have experienced PPD, if they have struggled with mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder, or if they have experienced PPD in previous childbirths. Additionally, women who face emotional or mental stress during their pregnancy and women who lack social support may be at a greater risk.
What to do if you are experiencing PPD:
1) Schedule an appointment with your doctor. Talk with your primary care provider if your symptoms last for more than two weeks after childbirth. Your doctor can perform a postpartum depression screening to gather details about your symptoms and other background health information.
2) Seek therapy. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy are just two types of therapy available for treating PPD and both are offered here at 253 Therapy and Consult!
3) Join a support group. Check out local resources for in-person support groups, or join one of the many online support groups focusing on supporting women who are suffering from PPD.
In the meantime, there are some things you can do on your own that can help improve symptoms. Self-care is crucial during this time, even though it may feel near impossible with a newborn baby.
1) Sleep when you can. Your typical sleep schedule will likely be thrown off with a newborn, but there are ways to squeeze in some more sleep time throughout the night (and day!). There are also different resources to help baby get on a consistent sleep schedule, which will ultimately help you get catch some more zZz’s!
2) Eating regularly and staying hydrated. Make sure your water bottle is next to you at all times and keep sipping throughout the day. Set up reminders on your phone to help you consume enough meals and snacks in between all of those baby duties.
3) Exercise. This may feel like the last thing you want to do right now, but studies show that consistent exercise can help with mental health symptoms. Don’t expect to jump back into your old gym routine, but try to plan daily walks around the neighborhood with baby or some light yoga in the mornings or before bed.
4) Find your community. Social support is particularly important for new moms, especially those struggling with postpartum depression. They say “It takes a village” for a reason! Reach out to mom’s groups either online or locally. Sometimes just meeting and chatting with other moms going through something similar can be helpful.
If you are struggling with postpartum depression symptoms such as those listed above, it may be time to reach out for support. Contact 253 Therapy and Consult today to see how we may be able to help.