Postpartum depression, or the “baby blues,” is an extremely common medical condition affecting more than 3 million new moms annually. Though it may seem odd that a new mom would feel depressed in the days and weeks surrounding the birth of her child, this emotional upset is understandable when you consider all of the things that are going on in the new mom’s body.
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Though many factors can play a part in causing postpartum depression, the most impactful factor is the hormonal changes after a woman gives birth. Postpartum depression can be exceptionally upsetting to new moms and their loved ones alike, but it’s generally quite treatable. Ninety percent of all sufferers of postpartum depression are successfully treated with medication, therapy or an alternative medical option. If you or someone you love is dealing with this post-baby upset, you might find the suggestions below helpful.
Though seemingly simple, rest is decidedly difficult to come by when tasked with the care of a new human. Ask for help if you’re a new mom. Have your partner or a family member watch your adorable, albeit high maintenance, little one and take some time for yourself. If you’re supporting the new mom, brush up on your diapering skills and offer your services, insisting that she spend time curled up and relaxing.
Not only will getting some exercise help the new mom get to feeling like her old self more quickly, it may also help stave off depression. Engaging in regular exercise promotes the production of endorphins, which help fight off the blues. In addition, having this small break away from baby can give mom the time she needs to wrap her head around the changes that being a parent necessitates.
Though not always necessary, medication may be a helpful tool in curbing depression, particularly if the depression is severe and persistent. Many doctors prescribe antidepressants to new mothers suffering from postpartum depression. For breastfeeding moms, doctors exercise extra caution when prescribing medication of this type, as some antidepressants can be passed from mom to baby through breastmilk. In severe cases, however, the benefits of these medications outweigh any risks associated with using them while engaging in breastfeeding.
Hormone therapy provides another chemical treatment for post-partum depression. When a new mom welcomes a baby, she experiences a rapid drop in her estrogen levels. This can cause or exacerbate the symptoms of post-partum depression. In hormone replacement therapy, the new mom is given estrogen replacement from which she can later be weaned, allowing for a more gradual hormonal drop that is decidedly easier for the body to handle. As with antidepressants, however, this option does have some potential impact on the baby if the mother is breastfeeding, not to mention dangers to the mother herself. As a result, those considering this option should carefully weigh the benefits and side effects with her physician.
Sometimes, people just need someone to hear them out, and new moms are no exception. Talk therapy can be very useful in treating depression of this type. Particularly in instances of severe or prolonged depression, doctors may refer new moms to a mental health professional who is qualified to provide this type of therapy. With the aid of a trained professional, many post-partum sufferers find themselves feeling more emotionally supported and better able to manage the goals and expectations they have for their motherhood experience.
Current and former postpartum sufferers alike can benefit from participation in a postpartum support group. These groups bring together former and current sufferers, along with others who have been impacted by postpartum depression. At these groups meetings, individuals discuss their current and former challenges. Participants in such programs often benefit from the forming of a community, as they are better able to see that they aren’t alone in their struggles. These groups also often provide great information to attendees regarding other community supports they could investigate as they continue to battle their postpartum depression.