Do you have concerns about post-partum depression? Pregnancy impacts many areas of a woman’s life. It’s wise to ask questions and be prepared ahead of time for the changes pregnancy may bring. If you found this article because you’re worried about post-partum depression and looking for more information, it is our hope you will find some answers here.
If your pregnancy is unplanned, you may be asking yourself additional questions as you determine the course you will take. Contact us at Avenue Women’s Center. More than just our blog offerings, we provide assistance and services to women in DuPage County and surrounding communities who are asking further questions related to unplanned pregnancy: What are my options? What things should I consider as I weigh the value of each for me? What other things do I need to know before deciding? Many of our services are free of cost to you. Please reach out and allow us to accompany you as you navigate the path ahead of you.
Although post-partum depression has been known for quite some time, there has been discussion about its proper diagnosis. Is it post-partum depression? Is it “baby blues”? What is the difference?
It can’t be denied or dismissed that life is different after the birth of a baby. A woman undergoes physical, hormonal, and emotional changes through pregnancy and after giving birth. As prepared as one tries to be, there are bound to be some unexpected aspects of life post-partum. Usually, there’s quite a mix of emotions. These can include joy, excitement, worry, anxiety, or stress. It’s perfectly natural for a woman to experience these ups and downs. Most do, as a matter of fact. Up to 80% of women go through the “baby blues.”
Baby blues usually sets in the first few days after giving birth. It may entail feeling sad, moody or cranky, crying easily, or perhaps having difficulty sleeping or making decisions. Feeling depressed during pregnancy or after having a baby doesn’t indicate being “bad” or inadequate as a woman or a mother. It’s unusual NOT to experience this to some degree.
During pregnancy, hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone) increase dramatically in a woman’s body. After giving birth, the hormones quickly drop (within 24 hours) to their pre-pregnancy levels, causing chemical changes in her brain. This may lead to depression, or mood swings, similar to the way menstrual hormone changes can cause these symptoms. On-going sleep deprivation is also usually experienced when there is a newborn in the house, and this may result in physical discomfort and exhaustion. Added to this is the increased responsibility of caring for the newborn. It’s no wonder there’s some anxiety! The symptoms of baby blues, which are milder than those of actual post-partum depression, typically subside on their own within a few weeks after the birth.
Experts believe post-partum depression is caused by a combination of different factors, with no specific origin. It can happen to any woman after the birth of a child. It can develop after the birth of any child, not just the first. It is not caused by something the woman does or does not do. Most likely it is caused by a combination of physical, hormonal, and emotional factors noted earlier.
Post-partum depression is more serious, and also less common, than baby blues. About 1 in 7 women experience post-partum depression. This condition lasts longer and symptoms are more severe. Be aware of these additional markers which may indicate something beyond baby blues:
- Sleeping too much, or being unable to sleep even when the baby is asleep
- Eating too little or too much
- Loss of interest in self-care (dressing, bathing, fixing hair)
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed
- Feeling withdrawn or unconnected; avoiding friends and family
- Lack of pleasure or interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
- Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Loss of energy; problems doing tasks at home or work
- Agitation, feeling overly anxious, panic attacks
- Experiencing anger or rage
- Suffering from physical aches and pains, including frequent headaches, stomach problems, and muscle pain
- Showing too much ﴾or not enough﴿ concern for the baby
- Problems doing tasks at home or work
- Afraid to be alone with the baby
- Thinking about harming self or the baby
If baby blues doesn’t go away after two to three weeks, or if you are experiencing these more distressing signs, talk with your provider. He or she can make a proper diagnosis. It may include blood tests to screen for a medical cause. Note: A drop in thyroid hormones after pregnancy (hypothyroidism) can also cause depressed or irritated moods, sleep problems, loss of concentration and weight gain.
It is critical that a woman not feel embarrassed or reluctant to seek professional help if she suspects she may be suffering from post-partum depression. Help is available for this condition, through counseling, talk therapy, medication, or a combination of those things. The sooner help is sought and received, the sooner the problems can be remedied.
Should a concern for post-partum depression impact your pregnancy decision?
As this article mentions, there is not a specific cause or indication for post-partum depression. If you have dealt with post-partum in the past, that doesn’t mean that you will suffer from it after your current pregnancy. The possibility of post-partum can occur with any woman with any pregnancy. Although no one wants to experience it, the possibility of it occurring should not be a deciding factor, due to the fact it is not guaranteed to occur.
If yours is an unplanned pregnancy, if you’re not sure whether you want it to continue, whatever your unique questions may be, please call, text, email or chat with us at Avenue Women’s Center. You don’t need to make this journey alone. We are here for YOUR questions and your unique needs. We are waiting to meet you in a comfortable, nonjudgmental environment for a free private, confidential, no obligation pregnancy consultation with a caring client advocate. It will be our honor to serve you.
- American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. (2013, December) Postpartum Depression FAQs. Retrieved from: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Postpartum-Depression
- Mayo Clinic. Postpartum depression. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617?p=1
- MedLinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (2018, March). Postpartum Depression. Retrieved from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007215.htm
- WebMD. (2016, July). Am I at Risk for Postpartum Depression? Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/depression/postpartum-depression/understanding-postpartum-depression-prevention
- WebMD. (2016, April) Understanding Postpartum Depression—Diagnosis and Treatment. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/depression/postpartum-depression/understanding-postpartum-depression-treatment#1
- March of Dimes.(2017, February). Baby Blues after Pregnancy. Retrieved from: https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/baby-blues-after-pregnancy.aspx
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Postpartum Depression Facts. Retrieved from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml.
- Healthy Children.org/ American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016, May). Depression During & After Pregnancy: You Are Not Alone. Retrieved from: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/delivery-beyond/pages/Understanding-Motherhood-and-Mood-Baby-Blues-and-Beyond.aspx
Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.The information provided here is general in nature. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention. Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.