What You Need to Know About Postpartum DepressionNov 19, 2020
Did you know that roughly one in eight women experiences postpartum depression? In some areas of the country, stats are as high as 1 in 5 women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These stunning statistics highlight a real and common problem — as a pediatrician, I’ve personally provided referrals for hundreds of moms suffering from postpartum depression. Many pediatricians, myself included, routinely screen moms for postpartum depression at every well-child visit, starting at two weeks until six months. We do these screenings because pediatricians tend to see new moms more frequently than their general practitioners, especially in the first few months of the baby’s life.
What is postpartum depression?
Thanks to hormone fluctuations, extreme fatigue, unpredictable sleep patterns, and the new responsibilities of being a parent, many moms struggle with depression or anxiety in the first year after the birth of a baby. However, many of the symptoms of postpartum depression are often mistaken as just part of being a new mom.
Postpartum depression vs. the baby blues
So how can you spot the difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression? The baby blues typically include mood swings, crying spells, and mild depression. They usually go away after one to two weeks.
In contrast, postpartum depression is more severe and lasts for much longer (up to a year in some women). If you have feelings of deep sadness or isolation for more than two weeks, have trouble falling asleep even when the baby is asleep, are constantly worried about your baby, or find yourself crying more often than normal, you may be experiencing PPD. Other symptoms include bursts of irritability or anger, a loss of appetite, or intense feelings of guilt.
How to get help
If you are concerned you might have postpartum depression, please know that you are not alone and you don’t have to suffer in silence. This mental illness is common and treatable. Talking to either your pediatrician or OB-GYN can be the first step in getting the help you deserve.
Feel free to share this blog post with a new or expectant mom. She may need the reassurance to know she’s not alone if things aren't going as expected.
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