What is Postpartum Depression and Why do Women Experience It?

If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, a psychiatrist in Columbia, MD can find answers

It is no secret that giving birth is a complex and emotional experience. Pregnancy and childbirth will change the way you view the world and your motivations now that you are a new parent. Though many describe having a baby as a revelatory moment in their lives, that is not the case for all new mothers. Many mothers, about 1 in 9, experience symptoms of postpartum depression after childbirth. 

Since postpartum depression affects so many new moms, it is more common than you may think and can be treated with care from a psychiatrist in Columbia, MD. Experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression does not mean that you are doing poorly as a mother or that there is something “wrong” with you. With the right amount of support and treatment, you can overcome postpartum depression and start feeling like yourself again.

What Are The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?

Baby blues is common and generally lasts about two weeks. You should seek help from a psychiatrist in Columbia, MD if symptoms persist.

woman frustrated postpartum depression anxiety crib in background nursery plaid shirt
If you are feeling emotional after giving birth, it is important to determine the severity of your symptoms.

Before we explore how postpartum depression affects thought patterns, it is important to differentiate between “baby blues” and postpartum depression. The most obvious difference is that baby blues only lasts for one to two weeks after giving birth and postpartum depression lasts for much longer. Let’s explore some of the symptoms of “baby blues” and postpartum depression so you know what to look out for.

“Baby Blues” Symptoms

  • General anxiety
  • Heightened emotions
  • Sadness
  • Trouble eating regularly
  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability
  • Lack of sleep

Postpartum Depression Symptoms

  • Depression lasting for several weeks
  • Trouble bonding with your baby
  • Social Isolation
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Hopelessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling worthless or like you are an unfit mother
  • Thoughts of self harm or harming your child

As you can see based on the various symptoms, postpartum depression is much more severe and long lasting than “baby blues.” However, sometimes the two phenomena are still confused. Feeling down after you have given birth will not require treatment. On the other hand, experiencing symptoms of depression for months after birth will require you to see a COlumbia, MD psychiatrist and create a care plan to get you feeling better.

Why Do Women Experience Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression does not have one singular cause, but there are some pre existing factors that contribute to feelings of depression

smiling baby in arms of mother focused lap hospital new mom
Your body and mind changes a lot after giving birth. Sometimes you need help adjusting to life as a mother.

After giving birth, your body has to recover both externally and hormonally in order to get back to your baseline functioning. Hormones do not return to normal levels immediately after childbirth and can sometimes take weeks to stabilize. Some of these changes include a sharp drop in estrogen and progesterone caused by your thyroid gland. The thyroid gland controls many of the mechanisms that we take for granted every day, such as sleep and hunger regulation. When these chemical levels drop suddenly after giving birth, it can cause symptoms of depression. Another common reason that many people experience postpartum depression is because of the emotional effort it takes to adjust to your new life as a parent. Many new parents are getting very little sleep and can feel like their life is out of control. These are common feelings that can eventually lead to heightened anxiety levels exacerbated by exhaustion. Though these issues are very common, they can potentially lead to symptoms of postpartum depression.

Am I at Risk for Postpartum Depression?

If you are worried you might be at risk of postpartum depression, consult a psychiatrist in Columbia, MD to determine if you should take extra precautions

new mother on laptop research child playing with blocks on couch nursery headphones gray sweater
Most new mothers assume they will not get postpartum depression, but it is still good to be aware of the risks.

Technically, all pregnant women are at risk for postpartum depression. There is no significant statistics that point to a certain demographic of women that experience postpartum depression more or less often. However, there are some factors that can put you at a higher risk of postpartum depression. People who have a family history of postpartum depression are more likely to experience symptoms as well as those who have had a recent traumatic event, a history of alcohol or drug abuse, or little emotional support after childbirth.

What Treatment Options are Available?

If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, there are ways to start feeling better

young woman attending therapy female therapist holding hands comforting talking reassuring
Talk therapy is one of the several treatment options available for postpartum depression.

Though postpartum depression is common, it can still be very detrimental to the health of both the mother and the child. If you are noticing severe depression weeks after childbirth, contact your psychiatrist immediately to get some help managing your symptoms. When postpartum depression is left untreated, it can prevent a mother from being able to properly take care of her child, which leads to health and developmental issues for the baby. Thankfully, there are many resources for getting help with postpartum depression.

If you are considering treatment for postpartum depression, you may consider either traditional talk therapy or antidepressant medication. It is important to consult with your psychiatrist before pursuing these treatment options. Both talk therapy and antidepressants will help you slow down the depressive thoughts that arise due to postpartum depression. When you have more control over your depressive thoughts, you can work through them more easily and begin getting back on track.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, contact a psychiatrist in Columbia, MD for advice. Postpartum depression is very common in new mothers, so there is no shame in asking for or offering help with symptom management. Being a new parent is hard, but if your depression is making it ever harder, you may want to reach out for extra help. If you are in need of care regarding postpartum depression symptoms, you can always contact The Psych Associates of Maryland and schedule an appointment with a licensed professional. You can do this!

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