Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
Postpartum depression refers to depressive and anxious symptoms that occur for women within days or months of having a new baby. However, recent research has revealed that many women begin experiencing these symptoms during their pregnancy as well.
Symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety are similar to those described above but may also include:
– difficulty sleeping even when baby sleeps
– feeling numb or disconnected from your baby
– having scary or negative thoughts about your baby, worries about something bad happening
– worrying that you will hurt the baby
– feeling guilty or ashamed about not being a good mother.
So often mothers are warned to be on the look out for typical depressive symptoms that they fail to recognize the importance of anxiety symptoms as well. Women who have a history of struggling with chronic worry or depression are at greater risk of developing a more serious postpartum depression and anxiety problems.
The following experiences put women at greater risk of developing postpartum depression and anxiety:
– Difficulty getting pregnant
– Having twins or multiples
– Losing a baby
– Having a baby as a teen
– Premature labor and delivery
– Having a baby who is different, with special needs
– Pregnancy or birth complications
– Having a baby or infant hospitalized
Remember fathers and partners too:
It is important to recognize that fathers or partners of new mothers are also at greater risk for depressive symptoms. While they may not experience the physiological/hormonal changes associated with birthing a baby, they do experience significant stress as they too adjust to a new family dynamic and pressures to care for mother and child in a new way.
What can you do about postpartum depression and anxiety?
There are useful strategies to try to prevent and manage postpartum depression and anxiety. This is a time to nurture a good support system and call upon your supports for help and companionship. It is important to make time to connect to your partner as well as have quiet time to yourself for self care. Make certain to rest when possible and eat healthy, satisfying food. Sharing your feelings with people you trust can be incredibly relieving. But when these strategies fall short of creating lasting change, it may be time to consider seeing professional help with psychotherapy.
Linden BP is proud to provide specialized mental health services for women experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy. Dr. Suzanne Smith is taking new patients seeking this specialized care.