Between 50 and 80% of new moms get the baby blues, a mild form of depression that begins a few days or a week after delivery and generally lasts no more than two weeks. Baby blues come with changes in hormone levels, lack of sleep, changes in lifestyle, and frustration of an expectation that you would be the best mother in the world. Weepiness, anxiety, and insomnia are symptoms of the baby blues.
Some things you can do to minimize this mild depression:
- Mobilize a support network.
- Make sure your own needs are being met.
- Get enough rest and good food.
- Try to get some help around the house.
- Find other new mothers to talk to.
But postpartum depression (PPD) affects about 10-20% of new moms and can last from two weeks to a year. If you are crying all day long, are unable to sleep when your baby sleeps even though you are exhausted, are moody and irritable, have a loss of appetite, panic attacks, feel suicidal, or have seriously negative thoughts about your baby, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. The frequency, intensity, and duration of your feelings are important information to give your doctor. Your health care provider is the best person to diagnose postpartum depression and to treat it.
PPD is caused by a combination of hormonal, biochemical, psychosocial, and environmental influences.
Some common risk factors for PPD are:
- A family history of depression or other mental problems.<
- Bouts of intense anxiety during your pregnancy.
- Your pregnancy was unplanned.
- Your spouse or partner is unsupportive.
- You’ve recently gone through a separation or divorce.
- You went through a serious life change such as a big move or loss of a job at or around the time you had your baby.
- You had obstetric complications, were subject to early childhood trauma, a history of abuse, or a dysfunctional family.
Many women have a number of these risk factors and never get depressed and others have none or just one risk factor and have a major depression. But if you or your husband think you are depressed, ask a professional’s opinion immediately. You are not a bad mother. Your are not crazy. Postpartum depression is real and there is treatment available. This will not last forever and you will feel better again.
Here is a particularly good article for Christian women dealing with postpartum depression. In the Valley