Postpartum depression is a psychological disorder that must be treated by a physician
Our Grapevine obstetricians want patients to know that postpartum depression is a real, treatable problem that must not be ignored under any circumstances. It can happen to any woman, regardless of age and what kind of pregnancy or birth experience she had—whether it’s her 1st or 5th pregnancy. Postpartum depression is a problem that can affect anyone after giving birth, and it should not cause shame.
The “baby blues” versus postpartum depression
The “baby blues” commonly occur to some women as early as 2-3 days after giving birth. Women may feel sad or cry easily, have problems with sleeping, eating or making decisions, feel angry with everyone or even doubt their abilities to care for their new baby. Unlike postpartum depression, the baby blues typically resolve without treatment in a few days or in a maximum of 1-2 weeks after the birth.
Postpartum depression is a serious problem
Approximately 1 in 7 women will experience a more serious problem—postpartum depression. Patients with postpartum depression will have much more intense bouts of anxiety, worry, mood swings, sadness and despair. Our Grapevine obstetricians want women to understand and recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression so they will not delay in asking for help.
Most of the time, these symptoms appear within the first 1-3 weeks after the birth, but they can occur up to a year after the baby is born. Here are some warning signs that should prompt a woman to call our offices or seek professional help right away.
- Feeling anxious most or even all of the time, or having panic attacks
- Feelings of guilt, blame or worthlessness
- Having no interest or taking no pleasure in activities previously enjoyed
- Excessive mood swings
- Long periods of depression, crying or sadness
- Fear or scary thoughts about motherhood or taking care of the baby
- Sleep difficulties
- Issues with eating
- Postpartum psychosis
In very rare instances, women experience an even more severe problem called postpartum psychosis. This can cause women to have hallucinations; feel extreme confusion; experience very rapid and severe mood swings; or even to try to hurt their baby or themselves. These symptoms should be considered an emergency situation, and the patient or her family should immediately call 9-1-1 for assistance.
Are you at an increased risk?
There are certain factors that may increase the risk that a woman will develop postpartum depression.
- Having previous episodes of anxiety or depression
- Having a family history of mental illness or depression
- Not having a good support network and feeling isolated
- Having a new baby with special needs or a problem such as colic which demands extra care and less sleep
- Emotional, relationship or financial problems that cause stress
Our Grapevine obstetricians can discuss these risk factors and your history with you before, during and after your pregnancy to ensure that you understand the problems and risks associated with postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a very treatable condition. For your sake and the sake of your baby, do not suffer in silence. Please contact us for more information.