The period surrounding the birth of a child is a joy, but for many families, it can also be a time of concern. Changing roles and physical changes can leave both mothers and fathers feeling irritable, depressed, or unable to cope. Here are some things to know and watch for.
Mood changes are the most common complications of pregnancy. Most new mothers will experience a disruption in their mood. The “baby blues” are very common with upwards of 80% of new mothers experience baby blues within the first week of delivery. This condition is not a psychiatric disorder and it passes within a few weeks. Mothers can become weepy, nervous, or dependent. Baby blues have been described as a relatively normal part of a reaction to rapid lifestyle and hormonal changes.
There are a number of risk factors for developing postpartum mood changes, or full post-partum depression, including a family history of depression. Any stressful situation during the perinatal period increases the incidence of mood reactions. Stress reduces the body’s ability to cope with drastic changes. Typical stressors include financial demands, marital discord, moving to a new home within several months of delivery, previous emotional instability of either parent or their families, changes in employment status, or the lack of support of the new parent’s employer(s), lack of social support, the mother’s attitude toward motherhood, thyroid imbalances, multiple births, or traumatic birth experience to name a few.
Symptoms of post-partum depression to watch for in yourself or a loved one include avoidance or withdrawal from others, difficulty taking care of yourself or your baby, trouble bonding with your baby, mood swings, lack of sleep, fear that you are not a good mother, loss of interest in daily tasks, thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. If you are concerned, you may want to see your gynecologist who can help further assess and discuss the possibility of medication. Additionally, you may want to see a therapist for counseling which is another form of treatment. At Innovative Psychological Consultants, Kerry Anderson, MA, LP specializes in treating postpartum depression. You can find her bio on our website. Don’t suffer needlessly. Do what is best for you and your baby.
You can also call the Postpartum Depression Helpline staffed by trained volunteers at Postpartum Support International at 1-800-944-4PPD (www.postpartum.net).
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