Are you wondering if you have the "baby blues" or if it's something more?
The baby blues occur right after birth and resolve on it's own in 3-5 weeks. They symptoms of the baby blues are tearfulness, irritability, sadness, sleeplessness, anxiety, exhaustion. But what if those symptoms don't clear up on their own in about a month? You may be suffering from Postpartum Depression or Anxiety (Postpartum Mood Disorder-PPMD). PPMD is not uncommon. Up to 20% of all women suffer from PPMD across cultural and socioeconomic lines. PPMD can occur up to a year (or longer) after the birth of a child and may have begun while you were pregnant.
Early intervention is key if you think you might be suffering with PPMD. There are many sources of help available online and in person, whether you need medical, therapeutic, or social support. Reaching out or having someone reach out for you is the most important thing to getting help.
Ok, so what if you haven't had your baby yet, but you are looking into PPMD as a precautionary measure. Here are some risk factors and stressors that can increase your chance of suffering with PPMD.
- Depression or anxiety before or during pregnancy
- Previous cases of PPMD
- Intense fear of child birth
- History of mental illness and/or substance abuse
- Poor support system
- Loss of pregnancy or child
- Loss of one's own mother
- Medical complications in mother or baby
- Social Isolation
- Abrupt weaning
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Multiples (twins, triplets, etc.)
- Environment (home, work, finances, safety)
- Biological (history of infertility, hormones, thyroid issue)
- Relational (partner issues, family issues)
- Genetics (predisposition for PPMD)
Dads (or partners) can also be at risk for depression or anxiety after a baby is born. It is important that they get help too!
If you are suffering with PPMD or think you are at an increased risk, talk to your care provider, your doula, your lactation professional, your child's pediatrician or anyone who can help you reach out. There are also great online resources. Postpartum Support International helps women across the world be well.
It is ok to not be ok... it is not ok to stay not ok.
There are people who can help!