5 Signs You Need to Seek Professional Help for Postnatal Depression
Welcoming a baby into the world is exciting, but it can also be equally overwhelming. The additional responsibilities, long sleepless nights, and lack of “me” time can leave you feeling happy one minute and sad the next.
Baby blues vs. postnatal depression
Having mood swings and experiencing mild anxiety after delivering a baby are normal and are no cause for concern. Like a lot of women, you’re probably just going through the baby blues brought about by hormonal changes and the stress of caring for a newborn infant. It temporarily lasts about a week or two after delivery.
But then, if the negative emotions continue for more than a couple of weeks and you can’t get rid of them, then you might have a condition that is more serious – postnatal depression.
It’s not easy to know the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression because some of the symptoms are similar. What you must watch out for is the prolonged existence of the symptoms. Also, if the signs become so severe that they hinder your ability to perform routine tasks and to care for your child, then it may be time to see a specialist or a counselor such as the professionals from Endeavour Wellness to help you get through this stage.
Postnatal depression signs and symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore include:
- Oversleeping or insomnia
- Overeating or loss of appetite
- Sudden aches and pains that are not caused by any other illness
- Withdrawing socially from the members of your family and friends
- Unable to bond with your newborn
- Constant worry and fear that you’re not a good mother
- Hypersensitivity to other people’s comments
- Feeling extremely worthless, guilty, and hopeless
- Frequent panic attacks or severe anxiety
- Difficulty in making decisions or concentrating
- Diminished interest in things you previously enjoyed doing
- Extreme fluctuations of mood
- Intense anger and irritability
- Thoughts of self-harm or doing harm to your baby
Possible causes of postpartum depression
There isn’t any explanation why some women go through this type of depression while others breeze through motherhood without issues. However, there are identified factors that contribute to it.
- Stress. No doubt, caring for a newborn is a challenge. Aside from getting very little sleep, you will also keep worrying if you’re caring for your baby in the right way. It can be doubly stressful if you’re a first-time mom since you won’t only be making adjustments to your day-to-day routine but you also need to deal with your new role and identity.
- Changes in hormonal levels. After you give birth, the estrogen and progesterone levels in your body decrease significantly. These physical changes can have emotional repercussions. The drop in thyroid levels can make you feel tired and depressed. If you combine this condition with the changes in metabolism, blood pressure, and immune system that childbirth usually brings, postnatal depression can result.
- Bodily changes. Pregnancy can alter a woman’s body drastically, and these changes can foster insecurities regarding your physical attractiveness.
- Predisposition. If you experienced depression after your first or previous child was born, you’d likely go through the same phase the next time you give birth. The risk is also high if you have a family history of mood disorders. Social factors like having an abusive spouse or lack of family support can also make you more prone to postnatal depression.
When to seek professional help
Depression is not an issue that many accept readily, and some women may even be embarrassed to talk about it. Nevertheless, it’s advisable to schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible when:
- The symptoms don’t go away two weeks after you give birth
- The symptoms seem to get worse
- You find it difficult to perform routine day-to-day tasks
- You find it difficult to care for your baby
- You’re entertaining thoughts about harming yourself or your baby
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms, don’t put it aside believing it will go away on its own. Postnatal depression must be properly diagnosed and treated. There are two critical reasons you should seek professional help.
- If left untreated, postpartum depression can lead to chronic depression. Research data indicate that half of the women diagnosed with the condition still had it after one year and about one-third say they are still depressed three years after the birth of their baby. These numbers alone should compel you to seek treatment; otherwise, you will be dealing with depression for years.
- Postpartum depression can affect your child negatively. Babies who had depressed mothers tend to show aggressive behavior and are more likely to perform poorly in school when they grow older. When they become adults, they are also prone to substance abuse. The longer the depression is allowed to continue, the greater the negative impact on the child.
Postnatal depression is real, and its consequences are also real. It could happen to any woman. The good thing is that it can be treated and you can get back your joyful self. Feeling depressed after giving birth is nothing to be embarrassed about. Although it might be difficult, acknowledging it and seeking treatment means you value your well-being and that of your child’s.