The birth of a baby is an exciting and emotional time. The joy of bringing a new life into the world, combined with an onslaught of hormones, can leave new moms smiling in amazement one moment, and crying the next. And although it’s normal for postpartum moms to experience a roller coaster of emotions, it’s important to keep an eye out for the signs of postpartum depression. Postpartum depression, also known as PPD or “the baby blues,” is a serious illness that affects countless new mothers, and is often associated with severe symptoms and complications.
Keep reading for more on postpartum depression, including tips on addressing symptoms, seeking treatment and more.
Knowing the Signs of PPD
The symptoms of postpartum depression can vary; what’s more, some women begin to experience symptoms in the days and weeks following childbirth, while others report an onset of symptoms several months after labor and delivery. However, in most cases, symptoms like the following are present:
- Difficulty bonding with baby.
- Severe mood swings.
- Excessive crying.
- Withdrawing from your partner, friends and family members.
- Loss of energy and fatigue.
- Insomnia and other sleep disturbances.
- Severe anxiety, especially regarding the health and needs of your baby.
- Overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame, and worthlessness.
- Feeling like your baby and family would be better off without you.
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your new baby.
- Anger and aggression.
- Erratic behavior.
If you spot the signs of postpartum depression in yourself or a loved one, seeking immediate treatment is crucial to both mother and baby. Without treatment, this disease can intensify, and may have life-threatening consequences. Thankfully, though, PPD is a treatable illness, and is usually addressed with the following methods:
- Medication. The most common medications used to treat PPD are antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics and anti-anxiety drugs. If you’re breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about nursing-safe drugs, and be sure to keep track of your moods and symptoms so that adjustments to medications can be made if necessary.
- Talk therapy. Counseling or talk therapy is an essential component of PPD treatment. A trained professional can help new moms work through issues like depression and anxiety, and develop coping strategies in the interest of long-term health and well-being.
In addition to professional help, self-care methods like the following can help new moms reduce the effects of PPD:
- Make healthy lifestyle choices. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help reduce the effects of PPD. Strolls around the neighborhood, dancing with your baby, gardening and other fun activities count as exercise; remember, as long as you’re moving, you’re getting the benefits. Eat foods high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and avoid starchy, sugary foods and beverages.
- Take some personal time. Everyone needs a little “me time.” However, new moms are often reluctant or unable to take time for themselves. Never getting a break can only exacerbate the symptoms of PPD, so an effort should be made to have some personal time, each and every day. Enlist the help of your partner, friends or family members, and take the time you need to refresh and reset. It’s also a good idea for new moms to have healthy hobbies and surround themselves with supportive people. Mom groups, book clubs and weekly get-togethers with friends are all great options.
- Avoid the urge to self-medicate. Unfortunately, many moms with PPD attempt to numb their feelings with drugs or alcohol. Not only will this not work in the long run, but it can also result in prolonged substance abuse and addiction. Stick to your prescribed medications and healthy lifestyle choices, and you’re bound to see positive results.
Although postpartum depression is a serious, complex illness, it can be treated, safely and effectively. With the tips provided here, you’re better equipped to spot the signs of PPD, seek the proper treatment, and utilize healthy self-care methods.