By We Level Up WA | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: March 23, 2023
Get Help for Postpartum Depression: Diagnosis & Treatment Guide
Postpartum depression is a common type of depression that affects up to 15% of new parents. Postpartum depression symptoms include mood swings, excessive crying, exhaustion, guilt, and anxiety, which may affect a parent’s ability to care for their newborn. The good news is that postpartum depression can be managed with medication and counseling. Don’t suffer in silence – seek help and support.
To determine if you have a mild case of postpartum baby blues or a more severe form of depression, your healthcare provider may ask about your thoughts, feelings, and mental health. Don’t be shy in sharing your symptoms because diagnosing and treating postpartum depression early is key. Your provider may also ask you to complete a questionnaire or order other tests to eliminate underlying causes. By working with your provider, you can create a personalized treatment plan that works for you.
Postpartum Depression Treatment
Everyone’s journey to recovery from Postpartum depression is unique. The severity of your symptoms and your individual needs can affect the length of time it takes to heal. If you have an underlying illness, such as an underactive thyroid, your doctor may suggest treatment or referral to a specialist before addressing depression. You may also be referred to a mental health professional to help you cope with the psychological aspect of depression. Continue reading for more about postpartum depression treatment.
How Do I Know If I have Postpartum Depression?
Baby blues or postpartum depression? Here’s how to tell the difference. While both symptoms are similar, baby blues only last about 10 days and are less intense. Postpartum depression, on the other hand, lasts weeks or even months, and the symptoms are more severe.
If you’re experiencing crying spells, feeling overwhelmed, losing your appetite, having trouble sleeping or experiencing sudden mood swings, you may have the baby blues. Don’t hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms – they can help determine if treatment is necessary.
Overcoming the Baby Blues: Simple Tips and Advice
Feeling overwhelmed since having a baby? We get it. The postpartum period can be tough. Fortunately, the baby blues typically subside within a few days to a few weeks. While you’re waiting for that, try the following:
- Rest up as much as possible.
- Welcome help from loved ones.
- Connect with other new moms.
- Schedule in some self-care time.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs that could make you feel worse.
- And if you’re struggling with breastfeeding, don’t hesitate to ask your healthcare provider about lactation consultants.
With these proactive steps, you’ll feel like yourself in no time.
Get Relief: Postpartum Depression Treatments
Feeling down after childbirth? Don’t fret! There are a range of treatments available for postpartum depression. Psychotherapy, antidepressants, and other medicines can help you regain emotional balance.
Psychotherapy, talk therapy, or mental health counseling involves discussing your concerns with a mental health professional. You can develop healthier coping mechanisms and problem-solving strategies with therapy and learn to respond to situations positively. Family therapy may also be useful.
Antidepressants are another option recommended by healthcare providers. While some of these medications can enter your breast milk, most can be used with little risk to your baby. Talk to your provider to determine which antidepressant may be best for you.
Additional medications, such as extreme anxiety or insomnia, may be prescribed in special cases. Whatever your treatment option, rest assured that postpartum depression is treatable. So don’t hesitate to ask for help – you deserve to feel your best!
What is Postpartum Depression?
For many women, becoming a mother is a life-altering and fulfilling experience. On the other hand, it can cause some women to experience unexpected mental difficulties, such as postpartum depression. Mood disorders like postpartum depression are common in new mothers, especially in the first year after giving birth. The best way to help mothers through this is to be aware of the symptoms, research the root causes, and investigate potential Postpartum depression treatments. To raise awareness and foster a deeper understanding of postpartum depression, this article delves into postpartum depression treatment options, potential causes, symptoms, and associated risks.
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Postpartum Depression Symptoms
New mothers are particularly vulnerable to postpartum depression, which can devastate their health. Early intervention and proper support can be achieved by properly recognizing the symptoms. Some signs of postpartum depression include:
Signs of postpartum depression:
- Inability to form a strong emotional connection with the baby, which can lead to feelings of guilt or inadequacy. This refers to the experience of feeling detached from the baby or having difficulty forming a strong emotional connection with the baby.
- Feelings of intense sadness or emptiness, including hopelessness, & emptiness that last longer than the typical “baby blues” period.
- Feeling exhausted all the time, even after getting plenty of sleep, and losing interest in or ability to carry out even the most basic daily activities are symptoms of fatigue and loss of energy.
- Significant changes in appetite, such as decreased hunger or increased food cravings, that cause either weight loss or gain.
- Trouble sleeping or staying asleep, despite having ample opportunity to do so. Causes include anxiety and obsessive thinking.
- Disposition prone to anger or restlessness. Even trivial events can cause significant emotional responses.
- Apathy, or a loss of enthusiasm for life in general, can lead to disinterest in previously enjoyable activities.
- Anxiety and worry that won’t go away: having persistent, uncontrollable thoughts about the baby’s well-being.
- Constant self-doubt, guilt, or a feeling of being a burden to others; a generalized sense of worthlessness.
- In extreme cases, people may have suicidal or homicidal thoughts about themselves or their unborn child. If you’re having these thoughts, you or someone you know needs help immediately.
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
Physical, emotional, and social factors may cause postpartum depression. Postpartum depression causes include:
- Hormonal changes: After childbirth, estrogen and progesterone levels drop rapidly, which can affect mood and cause depression.
- Emotional and physical exhaustion: Caring for a newborn can be exhausting, resulting in poor self-care. Childbirth and sleep deprivation can also cause exhaustion and emotional distress.
- Mental health history: Women with a personal or family history of depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders may be more likely to develop postpartum depression. Pre-existing conditions can make postpartum emotional and physical changes harder to handle.
- Postpartum depression treatment and support are essential. Isolation and relationship issues can increase postpartum depression risk.
- Stressful life events: Financial issues, relationship issues, and traumatic births can cause postpartum depression.
- Personal factors: Low self-esteem, perfectionism, trauma, or abuse may increase postpartum depression risk.
Postpartum Depression Fact Sheet
Postpartum Depression Overview
“Postpartum” means the time after childbirth. Most women get the “baby blues” or feel sad or empty within a few days of giving birth. For many women, the baby blues go away in 3 to 5 days. If your baby blues don’t go away or you feel sad, hopeless, or empty for longer than 2 weeks, you may have postpartum depression. Feeling hopeless or empty after childbirth is not a regular or expected part of being a mother.
Postpartum Depression Meaning
Postpartum depression is a serious mental illness that involves the brain and affects your behavior and physical health. If you have depression, sad, flat, or empty feelings, don’t go away and can interfere with your daily life. You might feel unconnected to your baby as if you are not the baby’s mother, or you might not love or care for the baby. These feelings can be mild to severe.
Epidemiology of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression most commonly occurs within 6 weeks after childbirth. PPD occurs in about 6.5% to 20% of women. It occurs more commonly in adolescent females, mothers who deliver premature infants, and women living in urban areas. African American and Hispanic mothers reported symptoms within 2 weeks of delivery, unlike white mothers, who reported the onset of symptoms later, as one study reports.
Risk Factors of Postpartum Depression
Psychological: History of depression and anxiety, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), Negative attitude towards the baby, the reluctance of baby’s gender, and history of sexual abuse are perpetual factors for developing postpartum depression.
Obstetric risk factors: Risky pregnancy, which includes emergency cesarean section and hospitalizations during pregnancy. Meconium passage, umbilical cord prolapse, preterm or low birth infant, and low hemoglobin are associated with PPD.
Social factors: Lack of social support can cause postpartum depression. Domestic violence in the form of spousal sexual, physical, and verbal abuse can also be a causative factor in developing the disease. Smoking during pregnancy is a risk factor for developing PPD.
Lifestyle: Eating habits, sleep cycle, physical activities, and exercise may affect postpartum depression. Vitamin B6 has known to be involved in postpartum depression via its conversion to tryptophan and, later on, serotonin, which, in turn, affects mood. The sleep cycle is among the factors influencing the risk of depression. Decreased sleep is associated with postpartum depression. Physical activity and exercise decrease depressive symptoms.PPD.
Although less studied than depression, research on anxiety attacks during pregnancy’s effects on babies suggests that anxiety may negatively affect both the mother and the fetus. Anxiety increases the risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, earlier gestational age, and a smaller head circumference (related to brain size).
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Postpartum Depression Statistics
Depression is a common and serious illness. A CDC study shows that about 1 in 10 women in the United States reported symptoms that suggest they experienced an episode of major depression in the last year. While exact postpartum depression rates are unknown, there are some generally agreed-upon figures about the number of women who experience postpartum depression annually.
1 in 10 Women
Approximately 1 in 10 women will experience postpartum depression after giving birth, with some studies reporting 1 in 7 women.
Source: National Institute on Mental Health
Postpartum depression generally lasts 3 to 6 months. However, this varies based on several factors.
Source: National Institute on Mental Health
It is estimated that nearly 50% of mothers with postpartum depression are not diagnosed by a health professional.
Source: National Institute of Mental Health
How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last?
Postpartum depression can linger for a variety of reasons and time frames. Untreated postpartum depression can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Some people, however, may experience continued symptoms of postpartum depression for a year or more if they do not receive treatment.
Postpartum depression treatment is necessary, and early help can greatly reduce symptoms’ severity and duration. Many women with postpartum depression feel better after receiving appropriate support, therapy, and, in some cases, medication. This improvement typically occurs within a few weeks to a few months after giving birth.
The length of time someone struggles with postpartum depression depends on several factors, including the severity of their symptoms, any underlying mental health conditions, the strength of their support network, and how well they respond to treatment.
A healthcare provider or mental health professional should be consulted for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan if postpartum depression is suspected. Quicker healing and less discomfort are the results of early diagnosis and treatment. You can get help for your postpartum depression and don’t have to go through it alone.
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Risks Associated with Postpartum Depression
The risk and contributing factors for postpartum depression (PPD) are complex. PPD can happen to any mother after giving birth, but there are risk factors that can make it more likely. Some of the more common dangers of postpartum depression include:
- History of depression (either personally or in one’s family): A history of depression, particularly of PPD or a family history of mood disorders, raises one’s risk of developing PPD.
- Hormonal fluctuations: Rapidly falling estrogen and progesterone levels after childbirth have been linked to postpartum depression (PPD).
- Stressful life events, such as financial hardships, relationship problems, a lack of social support, or a traumatic birth experience, have been linked to an increased likelihood of postpartum depression.
- Preexisting mental health conditions: Women with depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder have a higher risk of developing PPD.
- Lack of self-care, insufficient rest, and sleep deprivation can all amplify feelings of exhaustion and overwhelm, which raises the risk of postpartum depression.
- Adjustment issues: PPD can develop if a woman has trouble adjusting to motherhood, which includes caring for a newborn, forming a new identity as a mother, and dealing with lifestyle and role shifts.
- Risk factors for postpartum depression include medical issues during pregnancy or childbirth, a fussy or colicky infant, or worries about the baby’s health.
Male Postpartum Depression
Can men get postpartum depression? Depressive symptoms can occur in fathers after the birth of a child, a condition known as paternal postpartum depression or male postpartum depression. Despite the common perception that only mothers suffer from postpartum depression, fathers are not immune to the condition either.
Postpartum depression in men can present with symptoms like those seen in women.
- Negative emotions that won’t go away.
- Disinterest or boredom in previously enjoyable activities Exhaustion and lack of vitality.
- Hunger or weight swings.
- Sleep disorders, including insomnia and hypersomnia.
- Anger, irritation, or annoyance.
- Inability to focus or make a choice.
- Absence of contact with loved ones.
- Negative emotions, such as shame or guilt.
- Manifestations in the body, such as aches and pains or gastrointestinal issues.
Multifaceted and sometimes paralleling women’s causes can contribute to postpartum depression in men. Fathers are not immune to the effects of postpartum depression, which can be triggered by hormonal shifts, sleep deprivation, and the stress of adjusting to new responsibilities and shifts in the family dynamic.
Men are at an increased risk for postpartum depression if they have a history of depression or anxiety, low social support, troubled relationships, financial difficulties, or a personal or family history of mental health disorders.
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Baby Blues vs Postpartum Depression
Baby blues and postpartum depression are two distinct but related conditions that can affect women after childbirth. While they share some similarities, they differ in severity, duration, and impact on daily functioning. Here’s a breakdown of the differences between baby blues and postpartum depression:
- Baby blues is a common and relatively mild condition that affects up to 80% of new mothers.
- It typically occurs within the first two weeks after giving birth and lasts for a short duration, usually up to two weeks.
- Symptoms of baby blues may include mood swings, irritability, crying spells, anxiety, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping.
- The cause of baby blues is hormonal changes and adjustment to motherhood’s physical and emotional demands.
- The symptoms of baby blues tend to resolve independently without specific treatment, although emotional support from loved ones can be helpful.
- Postpartum depression is a more severe and persistent condition that affects approximately 10-20% of new mothers.
- It can occur anytime within the first year after childbirth, and the symptoms may last for several weeks or even months if left untreated.
- Symptoms of postpartum depression may include intense sadness, feeling empty or hopeless, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, excessive fatigue, difficulty bonding with the baby, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and even thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby.
- The exact cause of postpartum depression is unknown but is believed to involve a combination of hormonal changes, genetic factors, and psychosocial stressors.
- Postpartum depression requires prompt diagnosis and treatment, which may include therapy, support groups, medication, and lifestyle changes. It is essential to seek professional help for proper evaluation and appropriate management.
How to Deal With Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is difficult to treat, but several methods exist. Postpartum depression treatment:
- Professional assistance: Contact perinatal mental health specialists like your doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist. They can diagnose and customize your treatment.
- Express yourself: Tell a trusted friend, family member, or support group about your emotions and struggles. Sharing your experience can reduce isolation and provide support.
- Self-care: Mind, body, and spirit. Have fun, relax, sleep, and eat well. Self-care improves mood and health.
- Create a support network: Connect with family, friends, and other mothers who can help. Postpartum support groups and online communities can help you feel accepted.
- Share your concerns and treatment plan with your partner. They can listen and help with childcare.
- CBT or IPT can help treat PPD. Therapy can help you overcome negative thoughts, develop coping skills, and improve your well-being.
- Antidepressants may help manage PPD symptoms. Medication combined with therapy and self-care can be effective.
- Start small: Start with simple tasks and build up. Setting realistic goals and celebrating small wins can boost confidence and self-esteem.
- Self-compassion: You’re not alone, so ask for help. Be kind to yourself and recognize postpartum depression as a serious illness that needs treatment.
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Postpartum Depression Treatment
A woman’s propensity to resort to postpartum depression self-care may be increased. Anxiety symptoms are also common among women. Almost two-thirds of women with postpartum depression also have an anxiety disorder, according to one study. In severe cases of postpartum depression, treatment may be required.
In postpartum depression with co-occurring multiple disorders, more experienced specialists are needed to diagnose and treat all underlying conditions. Women who become depressed after giving birth may be reluctant to seek help. This is due to the stigma attached to postpartum depression, which prevents many women from seeking help. Fortunately, attitudes are shifting as more people learn about and become familiar with this issue.
SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration) reports that up to 15% of depressed new mothers binge drink within a year of giving birth. Postpartum-depressed mothers who turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism significantly raise their children’s risk of alcohol poisoning. Thus, studies have shown that a baby’s growth can be stunted if alcohol is passed from mother to child during breastfeeding.
We Level Up’s mental health center employs licensed counselors and postpartum depression therapists competent in treating postpartum depression. You can rely on us to provide the support you need to care for yourself and your baby. Get in touch with the helplines in your area to find out more about postpartum depression treatment options.
5 Popular PostPartum Depression FAQs
When does postpartum depression start?
Postpartum depression (PPD) usually starts within weeks of giving birth but can occur at any time during the first year. Person-to-person onset varies. PPD symptoms can appear days or weeks after delivery.
How common is postpartum depression?
Many women experience postpartum depression. Postpartum depression affects 10%–20% of new mothers. Cultural, social, and individual differences affect prevalence rates.
Why does postpartum depression happen?
Postpartum depression is a complex condition whose exact causes are not fully understood. However, it is believed to result from physical, emotional, and hormonal factors during and after childbirth.
Can men have postpartum depression?
Paternal postpartum depression, also known as male postpartum depression, is a condition in which fathers experience depression after the birth of a child. It’s a common misconception that only mothers experience postpartum depression, but fathers can experience it too.
How to prevent postpartum depression?
The risk of postpartum depression can be reduced, and better mental health can be promoted, but it is not possible to prevent postpartum depression altogether. Physical health, self-care, communication of feelings, and consideration of postpartum support groups can all contribute to a healthier postpartum experience, as can building a strong support system, seeking prenatal care, learning about postpartum depression, planning for postpartum support, and taking care of one’s physical health.
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Coping with Depression Informative Video
Coping with depression can be challenging, but there are several strategies you can use to help manage your symptoms. Exercising, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep can help improve your mood. Talking to a therapist can also be beneficial as they can provide additional resources and help you process your thoughts and feelings. Lastly, knowing what triggers your depressive episodes can help you better prepare for them.
Search Postpartum Depression Treatment. Symptoms, Causes, and Risks. We Level Up WA / Detox & Mental Health Topics & Resources
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 US Department of Health and Human Services – https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/postpartum-depression/postpartum depression treatment near me
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 OASH – https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health Learn more: postpartum depression treatment
 CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/index.htm/treatment postpartum depression
 WHO – https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/66539 Learn more: postpartum depression treatment
 Postpartum Depression Treatment – https://welevelupnj.com/mental-health-services/postpartum-depression-treatment/
 Women’s Depression Treatment Center – https://welevelup.com/mental-health/womens-depression-treatment-center/ Learn more: postpartum depression treatment