It's more than feeling sad
Women experience depression about twice as often as men. Many hormonal factors may contribute to the increased rate of depression in women--particularly such factors as menstrual cycle changes, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), pregnancy, miscarriage, postpartum period, perimenopause, and menopause. Many women also face additional stresses such as responsibilities both at work and home, single parenthood, and caring for children and aging parents.
Many women are also particularly vulnerable after the birth of a baby. The hormonal and physical changes, as well as the added responsibility of a new life, can be factors that lead to postpartum depression in some women. While transient "blues" are common in new mothers, a full-blown depressive episode is not a normal occurrence and requires active intervention. Treatment by a sympathetic health care provider and the family's emotional support for the new mother are prime considerations in aiding her to recover her physical and mental well-being and her ability to care for and enjoy the infant.
Hear one mother's journey with postpartum depression in the video below.
Understanding postpartum depression
The birth of a child is a life-changing event that can take a toll on a mother’s emotional, mental, and physical health. Feeling worried or even fearful is normal for new parents, but when it affects your ability to live a normal life, you could be suffering from depression.
You may be suffering from postpartum depression if you experience:
- Eating too much or too little
- Excessive concern or lack of concern for your baby
- Fears of harming the baby
- Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or helplessness
- Frequent crying or tearfulness
- Little energy or motivation
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Thoughts of self-harm
Postpartum depression can be successfully treated with counseling and medication. Seeking treatment helps you recover faster so you can get back on track and enjoy time with your new baby. If you continue to have feelings of sadness and depression or any of the symptoms listed above for more than a few days, contact your doctor or nurse midwife for guidance and help.