Having a baby is life-changing for new moms and the new responsibilities, roller-coaster of hormones, and scant sleep can lead to postpartum depression. Plenty of moms experience “the baby blues” as they enter this new phase of life shortly after giving birth and feel overwhelmed as they adjust to motherhood and a very different looking schedule. For some moms, however, those feelings linger and get worse instead of better, developing into postpartum depression (PPD).
Baby blues may come and go in the first few days after childbirth and can leave women feeling depressed, anxious, upset, and wondering if she is fit to care for a baby. The major difference between baby blues and postpartum depression is the length of time each lasts. Baby blues are known to get better within one to two weeks of giving birth without any treatment. Postpartum depression, on the other hand, most commonly starts about 1-3 weeks after childbirth and can last up to 1 year after having a baby.
Postpartum depression is a medical condition that women experience after giving birth that can come with intense feelings of anxiety, sadness, and despair and prevent them from being able to go about normal life. There are a number of causes associated with postpartum depression including:
Postpartum depression may be treated with medications called antidepressants which is often used in combination with talk therapy. Antidepressants operate by balancing out the chemicals in the brain that control moods.
Antidepressants can come with side effects but most are short-term and temporary. If you find that your side effects are severe, unusual, or keep you from going about your normal daily habits, you should notify your healthcare provider. It may be that you need a different type of antidepressant.
If you have a prior history of depression at some point or are taking an antidepressant, you should tell your OBGYN or healthcare provider early on in your prenatal care. Ideally, you should tell your doctor before you become pregnant as he or she may suggest that you begin treatment soon after giving birth in order to prevent postpartum depression.
If you think you or someone in your family may be suffering from postpartum depression, it is important to see an obstetrician–gynecologist (OBGYN) or other healthcare provider as soon as possible.
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