It is not uncommon for women to experience temporary feelings of anxiety or sadness after childbirth. However, postpartum depression is more than just the “baby blues.”
A potentially debilitating mood disorder, postpartum depression can affect as many as 15 percent of new moms. This condition, also called postnatal depression, can persist over a prolonged period of time and interfere with daily living.
Want to be proactive? Find a Doctor at Dignity Health to discuss prevention strategies for postpartum depression in the Bay Area.
Identifying Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Symptoms of postpartum depression are most likely to begin within a week or two of giving birth, but can occur any time within the first year. Signs and symptoms can include:
- Crying for no reason, or more often than usual
- Extreme worry about your baby
- Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
- Lack of energy or fatigue
- Moodiness or extreme anger
- Feelings of sadness, guilt, anxiety, emptiness, helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness, irritability, or restlessness that persist
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Physical problems, such as aches, pains, headaches, or stomach problems
- Withdrawing from loved ones
- Problems with food, such as overeating or eating too little
- Sleep problems, including difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
If you experience any of the above symptoms, see your doctor right away. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can start feeling better and enjoying motherhood.
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
It’s likely that a combination of factors — hormonal changes, emotional stress, fatigue, and sleep deprivation — conspire to cause postpartum depression.
You may be more likely to develop postpartum depression if you have a history of depression, or have experienced a stressful life event after pregnancy (death of a loved one, an illness in the family, or a move).
You may be tempted to “push through” postpartum depression on your own. However, appropriate care at Dignity Health can help relieve your symptoms and improve the likelihood of a quick recovery.
Postpartum Depression Treatment at Dignity Health
If you have a personal or family history of depression, talk to your Dignity Health doctor about prevention strategies. Your doctor may advise you to start treatment right after childbirth to prevent postpartum depression.
Antidepressants, talk therapy, or both are the most common remedies for postpartum depression. Talk therapy can help you manage your emotions as you wait for the effects of antidepressants to take root (typically, two to three weeks). You can continue talk therapy — which can take the form of one-on-one counseling, family counseling, or group support — for several months.
We strive to be a national model for excellence for maternal and infant wellbeing. Learn about our Postpartum Depression Initiative to provide universal screenings at Dignity Health birth centers in the Bay Area.
Dignity Health obstetrical care experts provide supportive and knowledgeable care, including help identifying postpartum depression in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.