Understanding Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is a severe form of depression that occurs after pregnancy. Considering the vast chemical and hormonal changes in a woman’s body when she is expecting a baby, mild depression during and post-pregnancy is often a normal part of a new mother’s life. However, if after the pregnancy the depression continues to become so severe that the new mother is finding it difficult to cope, then she may be suffering from postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression can be debilitating for the mother. It is far more serious than simply having the baby blues. Although mild depression and pregnancy may be normal, postpartum depression is not. The sooner treatment is sought, the better the chances of a speedy recovery.
Who’s at Risk for Postpartum Depression?
A 2008 statistic released by the Centers for Disease Control reported that an average of 15 percent of postnatal women suffer from postpartum depression; however, this statistic only includes women who have themselves reported depression and does not include women who never sought treatment or simply kept quiet. Other sites suggest this number may be much higher, and puts the percentage between 20 and 25 to account for the undiagnosed. If this staggering statistic is correct, then depression and pregnancy — including women who have miscarried or delivered a stillborn — is a much more widespread pairing than considered before and affects over 1.3 million women each year.
Depression and Pregnancy: What are the Symptoms?
There is a vast difference between the type of depression most people will experience at some point in life and that of postpartum depression, and doctors tend to lean toward chemical and hormonal changes as being the culprit. Symptoms of depression can include feelings of sadness, anxiety, a change in appetite and sleep patterns, and feelings of emptiness; however, if these last longer than 2 weeks and include thoughts of hurting the baby, feelings of disconnect, or irrational thoughts about the baby being taken away, then postpartum depression may be to blame. These feelings are not normal, and any woman with these thoughts should seek help immediately – even if it’s several months after the birth. Anyone can suffer from depression, and pregnancy can often exacerbate it due in large part to changing levels of estrogen and progesterone after delivery. Treatment for postpartum depression often includes counseling and medication, and it is recommended that those close to the mother seek counseling as well.
Pregnancy and the birth of a new baby should be a joyous event in a mother’s life. While mild bouts of depression and pregnancy often go together, it is always best to err on the side of caution if these feelings last longer than a couple of weeks.
If you or a woman you love is not feeling herself and needs to speak with someone about feelings of depression, please call us today. We have a women’s program designed to treat the unique needs of women who suffer from substance abuse and mental health disorders. Destination Hope is a full-service alcohol abuse, drug addiction and health treatment facility in Florida for men and women who suffer from substance abuse and co-occurring disorders.