Posted by Claudia Grazioso on March 28, 2011
Having a baby is, hands down, the most life-altering thing you will ever do. And not just altering. You are a whole new you with a whole new life and a whole new set of priorities. Most women react emotionally to this and have bouts of postpartum “blues.” This is very normal — some studies suggest that up to 85 percent of women experience them. If you’re one of them, give yourself time. It’s normal to feel like an asteroid has hit your life. Frankly, one has… and it needs a diaper change.
Normal postpartum blues go away, and they don’t interfere with a new mom’s ability to care for herself and her child. Postpartum Depression (PPD) is different. It does not go away on its own. That is one sign, and it’s important to be aware of the others.
PPD typically manifests two to three months after delivery, but can appear anytime within the first year. Women who are at higher risk are younger than 20, prone to depression or abuse drugs or alcohol. They also frequently have financial troubles, or little support from family and friends.
The most common PPD symptoms to watch out for are changes in appetite, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy, inability to concentrate and extremely heightened anxiety levels. Often women with PPD either worry obsessively about their child, or show no interest at all in his or her care. They experience feelings of worthlessness and guilt and sometimes have thoughts that are not based in reality — even suicidal thoughts. They can also have negative feelings about or towards their child, occasionally about harming him or her. These feelings are not usually acted on, but if you experience any of the symptoms listed above it is important to talk to your healthcare provider immediately.
There is no shame in seeking treatment. In fact, the shame would be to continue to suffer with these crippling feelings when you could be embracing your new role and embarking on your new journey. There is help available. Both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) have been shown to be effective at treating PPD. Additionally, it’s important not to isolate yourself: See friends, go to the movies, interact with other moms and form a community of support. And remember, the sooner you start to work through your feelings of depression, the sooner you will be able to love and enjoy the new miracle in your life. Do it for yourself and your baby.