“Now that I have a baby, I should be happy. But I’m miserable.”
While it is not unusual for new mothers to experience moodiness and fatigue in the first few weeks after childbirth, 1 out of 8 new mothers suffers from a more serious and long-lasting condition known as Postpartum Depression, or PPD.
“I feel so sad and alone.”
PPD is an illness that affects the mind, body, and emotions, making it that much harder for the new mother to meet the normal challenges of caring for a baby. Mothers with PPD may have bouts of uncontrollable crying, sleeping problems, mood swings, and changes in appetite.
“I know my baby needs attention, but I just don’t have the energy.”
Signs of PPD
If these symptoms last more than 2 weeks, talk to your health care provider:
- Loss of energy and motivation
- Excessive crying
- Forgetfulness, problems focusing or making decisions
- Overeating, or not wanting to eat at all
- Feeling irritable, anxious, restless, guilty or worthless
Get help right away if you are:
- Thinking about hurting yourself or your baby
- Feeling like life is not worth living
Get Help for You and Your Baby
Disturbing thoughts and feelings frequently cause women with PPD to feel shame about being “a bad mother,” and delay seeking medical help. This is very dangerous, as PPD is an illness that is unlikely to go away on its own. Avoiding treatment only makes PPD worse.
PPD is caused by a combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, and fatigue. Because motherhood is so physically demanding, it is vital that mothers with PPD seek help from their health care providers. Without medical treatment, PPD may cause serious harm to both mother and baby, and may damage marriage and family relationships. Fortunately, with medical help, mothers can start to feel immediate relief.
Coping with PPD
- Talk to your health care provider about how you feel.
- Don’t go it alone. Find a friend, another mother or a counselor with whom you can talk openly about your feelings.
- Give yourself a 15 minute break. Walk, take a bath, treat yourself to something you like to do.
- Express yourself. Write down your emotions.
To learn more about PPD, go to www.mededppd.org.