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Postpartum Depression: Your Questions Answered

Postpartum Depression: Your Questions Answered

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Disclaimer: The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Welcoming a new baby into the world can be an emotional experience filled with feelings of happiness, elation, and excitement. However, overwhelming feelings like fear, sadness, and shock may also be present.

While becoming a new mother or a father can be a rewarding experience, it can also have its challenges and surprises, just like any other big event in life. 

One common obstacle faced by many new parents is postpartum depression, which typically rears its head two to three days after childbirth.

Managing a new baby on top of mental health concerns can be incredibly burdensome, particularly when parents don’t have the support or tools to cope effectively.

In this article, we’ll be going over some common questions about postpartum depression that can be helpful to have the answers to.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is a serious mental health disorder that develops after childbirth, leading individuals to feel intense sadness, despair, and hopelessness.

Although this condition is commonly presented as a women’s issue, both mothers and fathers can be impacted. 

While many people have the baby blues following childbirth, postpartum depression is persistent and lasts much longer.

Additionally, it often impacts the individual’s ability to function as usual and care for their child. It can also make it challenging for parents to establish and build a relationship with their baby. 

How Common Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is common, affecting around 1 in 7 women and 1 in 10 men. When one partner has the disorder, the other partner is at an increased risk of also developing it. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression?

Symptoms of postpartum depression can vary in type and severity, depending on the individual affected. Some common signs that could indicate the presence of this disorder include the following: 

  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities 
  • Mood swings
  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Random bouts of crying
  • Extreme sadness
  • Trouble focusing 
  • Irritability and angry feelings
  • Feeling like an inadequate parent 
  • Difficulty bonding with one’s baby
  • Trouble eating or overeating
  • Sleep problems like insomnia or poor-quality sleep
  • Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness
  • Feeling restless
  • Intense anxiety or panic attacks 
  • Thoughts of harming oneself or one’s baby

Symptoms of postpartum can intensify if left untreated. Therefore, it’s important to receive timely intervention and guidance should any of these symptoms appear. 

What Are The Causes Of Postpartum Depression?

When a baby enters the world, a lot tends to change for the parents (and others involved in their lives).

These changes can spark the development of postpartum depression. However, other factors can also increase a person’s risk of the disorder, including: 

  • Experiencing a lack of support or negativity surrounding the baby
  • Having a partner who is abusive (physical, social, verbal, sexual, or emotional)
  • Smoking during pregnancy 
  • Other mental illnesses, such as pre-existing depression, anxiety, etc.
  • Physical changes often caused by giving birth  
  • Developing high stress levels from caring for the newborn
  • Having a family history of the disorder
  • Hormonal changes, such as drops in estrogen and progesterone 
  • Emotional challenges 
  • Traumatic childbirth experiences 

Most experts agree that postpartum depression develops as a result of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes in both the body and mind. Thus, creating healthy habits and building a strong support system before birth may help prevent the disorder. 

How Is Postpartum Depression Treated?

Postpartum depression typically goes away on its own within three months after childbirth.

However, if its symptoms are affecting daily functioning and this lasts longer than two weeks, it’s crucial to find support and treatment. 

There are different options for treating postpartum depression, but therapy and medication tend to be the most effective. Some individuals use medication alone or only see a therapist, while others take medicine while also attending therapy.

Approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are often used, which teaches individuals how to identify their unhelpful thoughts and replace them with more positive patterns of thinking. 

Finding the time for therapy can be difficult with a new baby, but virtual options now exist, making it easier for parents to get the care they need.

BetterHelp offers online therapy for new parents who are experiencing postpartum depression and wish to receive support from the privacy and comfort of their homes. 

How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last?

Postpartum depression can last for months or years if left untreated.

When this happens, it’s known as chronic PPD, which is much like persistent or chronic depressive disorder.

However, with the right assistance and tools, most parents recover from the disorder much sooner, typically within a few weeks or months.  

Life After Postpartum Depression

Most people don’t imagine starting the first few weeks or months of their child’s life with postpartum depression.

The experience can be troubling, especially without support from family and friends.

However, there is hope and life beyond this disorder, and those who reach out for help are often more equipped to find healing.

Even after recovery, self-care remains essential, not only for oneself but for the well-being of the new baby. 

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