← Go back Mental Wellness for New Moms
Published on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 by

Having a child is, as any parent can attest to, a huge adjustment. Whether it’s your first or fourth, adding a new child to your family can result in a significant range of emotional reaction. From joy and elation; to worry and sadness; the emotions of a new parent can run the gamut.

Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a reality for many new mothers, and it’s often under diagnosed, or not considered to be serious. This is a problem as it is one of the most common complications resulting from childbirth. It is estimated to affect approximately 2 in 10 women who give birth. In September 2013, The Globe and Mail published an article on “Doing More for Moms Struggling with Postpartum Depression.”

Postpartum Depression is sometimes confused with the Baby Blues (which are a less serious and shorter lasting form of Postpartum Depression). Baby Blues are generally characterized by mood swings; anxiety, and sadness which lasts from only a few days to a few weeks.

On the other hand, Postpartum Depression is much more debilitating. It can begin any time between delivery and six months after childbirth, and can last from a few months to a year. Symptoms include:

• Despondency
• Tearfulness, sadness, severe mood swings
• Irritability, anger, and anxiety
• Feelings of shame, guilt, or inadequacy
• Fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, numbness, hyperventilation
• Difficulty bonding with your baby
• Social isolation
• Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

The cause of Postpartum Depression is not well known. Some hypothesized causes include:

• A dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone after child birth
• Drop in hormones produced by thyroid gland after child birth which can cause tiredness and depression
• Sleep deprivation and overwhelmed feelings
• Anxiety about ability to care for a newborn
• Feeling a struggle with sense of identity or personal appearance
• Feeling as though you’ve lost control over your life

Although the condition can affect any woman who has given birth, there are some factors that put certain women at a higher risk of developing it. Those who had depression prior to becoming pregnant or Postpartum Depression with a previous pregnancy, are at a greater risk.

Treatment is usually very effective. This is why it is important to watch for signs and to take action to get help right away. The condition can be treated the following ways:

• Get Counselling: A trained professional can help you learn to understand your feelings and solve problems. Through counselling you obtain an unbiased person to talk to.
• Avoid Isolating Yourself: Talk to your partner, your friends, and your family. Join a local mom and baby group. Find a support group for Postpartum Depression
• Adopt Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Physical activity, healthy foods, and the avoidance of smoking and alcohol are important for mental well-being.
• Work with Your Doctor: Antidepressants can be a great short-term help for easing the symptoms of depression. If needed, work with your doctor to determine which antidepressant is right for you.

  • The Women’s Reproductive Mental Health Program via BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services: www.bcmhsus.ca

Getting help for Postpartum Depression is essential so that you can develop a strong bond with your new baby, and relieve the many debilitating symptoms that accompany the condition.

Cara, works in the Communications Department at the BC Council for Families, where she enthusiastically advocates for families and family-serving professionals.

Cara, works in the Communications Department at the BC Council for Families, where she enthusiastically advocates for families and family-serving professionals.

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