Deal with Depression after Giving Birth

S
hortly after giving birth, women are usually elated at the prospect of being a new mother. However, instead of joyfully celebrating and fussing over the new arrival, women may experience anxiety, exhaustion and constantly cry. The condition is often referred to as the baby blues. With plenty of rest and proper nutrition, hormone levels return to normal and the mother feels like a new person in a few days or a couple of weeks. However, postpartem depression is a more serious form of the disorder. Statistics indicate that of all the births that happen in the United States annually, approximately 600,000 women experience postpartem depression.

Signs of Postpartem Depression

Initially, symptoms resemble the baby blues. Women become irritable, sad or have mood swings from fatigue. They may suffer from insomnia. However, the symptoms gradually progress over the next few months. Women develop a lack of concern for themselves and their infant. They have no energy or motivation. They might feel guilty or worthless. Appetite loss turns into weight loss. Mothers sleep more or fewer hours than normal. Nothing brings them joy. Women might begin having thoughts about hurting the baby or hurting themselves.

Depression Causes and Risk Factors

Researchers believe that many common factors contribute to the disorder. After giving birth, a woman's body suffers a dramatic decline in estrogen and progesterone levels. Thyroid levels may also drop. The severe hormone deficiencies combined with alterations in vital signs, immune system function and metabolism are thought to stimulate postpartem depression.

Being pregnant for nine months and giving birth causes a wide range of physical body changes. The pain and laborious task of childbirth combined with having excess weight along with hormone abnormalities often leave women feeling insecure about their physical appearance. They commonly feel that they are less attractive, which leads to depression.

As new babies awaken every few hours for feeding and diaper changes, mothers become sleep deprived. New mothers especially may feel overwhelmed and insecure concerning their ability to perform up to the task. The stress may then lead to depression.

Self-Help Through Self-Care

Maintaining mental and physical well-being are vital. Get at least eight hours of sleep everyday. Nap when the baby naps or have someone babysit while catching up on sleep. Nutrition is important to keep the body going and aid in the healing process. Diet also affects the quality of breast milk. If eating three or four sizable meals is not appealing, graze every few hours on healthy foods rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.

While the baby sleeps, indulge in a bubble bath while the bathroom is dimly lit with scented candles. Enjoy a hot cup of tea and watch a favorite TV program or relax with a book. Sunshine can improve mood dramatically. Especially when feeling down, go outdoors and bask in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes everyday. If the condition does not improve, a woman may need to seek professional help.

Deal with Depression after Giving Birth: ""
Cite this page: Nugent, Pam M.S., "Deal with Depression after Giving Birth," in PsychologyDictionary.org, January 25, 2016, https://psychologydictionary.org/article/deal-with-depression-after-giving-birth/ (accessed August 21, 2018).
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