Most people have heard of Postpartum Depression (PPD) and have a basic idea of what it is. However, fewer people know what it actually looks like, what causes it, and what to expect when you’re dealing with it. It’s important to understand how common it is for postpartum women to experience the “baby blues.” However, there’s a difference between feeling a little down after having a baby and actually dealing with PPD.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at what causes Postpartum Depression, how you can recognize it, and what can you do if you’re struggling with it after having a baby.
The Difference Between PPD and the Baby Blues
Before we dive into the cause of Postpartum Depression, it’s important to recognize the differences between an official diagnosis and simply dealing with the “baby blues.” The baby blues refer to a feeling of sadness that women experience after birth. It might show up in mood swings or a lack of motivation. However, it typically goes away after a couple of weeks and doesn’t usually inhibit how you care for your baby. Postpartum Depression, on the other hand, is often hugely different.
First, the timeline is important. While the baby blues usually go away quickly, PPD often lasts for a long time. Many women experience it up to a year after giving birth. The symptoms of PPD are also often more severe. Some of the most common signs include:
Changes in sleeping or eating habits
Many mothers with PPD also often struggle with guilt over their symptoms, worrying about being a “good” mother, which can lead to even stronger feelings of anxiety or depression.
What Causes PPD?
There’s no one cause when it comes to Postpartum Depression. A lot of it can have to do with the physical changes your body goes through after giving birth. The sudden drop in hormones can make you feel fatigued and sluggish, contributing to feelings of depression. The emotional factors surrounding pregnancy and birth can also play a role. There’s no question that having a baby takes a toll on your emotional and mental health. Add that to not getting a lot of sleep or practicing self-care, and you can easily slip into a depressed state.
Additionally, some women may be at a greater risk of developing PPD than others. If you have a history of depression or other mental health conditions, you might be more prone to PPD. Things like having a weak support system, relationship issues, or financial problems can also contribute to depression after having a baby. Your environment can play a greater role than most people think.
How to Treat Postpartum Depression
There’s good news if you’re struggling with PPD, no matter the cause. First, remind yourself that this doesn’t last forever. While Postpartum Depression can take months to overcome, most women do get past it. Second, it’s important to remember that struggling with PPD doesn’t make you a bad mother. By focusing on your own mental health and well-being, you’ll be able to take better care of your child. As the old saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”
Make sure to talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you’re struggling with depression during your pregnancy or shortly after. The earlier PPD is detected, the easier it is to manage. Lean on your partner or support system as much as possible, and practice self-care each day.
Even if it’s been several months since you’ve had a baby, it’s never too late to get the help you deserve. If the symptoms listed above sound familiar, feel free to contact me and set up an appointment.
Jennifer Perera is a mom of two boys, a spouse and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is also Certified as a Perinatal Mental Health Professional by Postpartum Support International. She has a private practice in Springfield, New Jersey and also sees clients throughout New Jersey via telehealth. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual and couples counseling. She also runs workshops for new parents, teaching them techniques and strategies to help them have a stronger relationship - built to thrive during the parenthood years. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with grief or loss issues surrounding pregnancy.