Postpartum Depression

Having a baby is supposed to be the happiest time of your life.  Your beautiful child fills you with joy and love. But what if there’s something else there too?  What if you’re experiencing depression as well? How could you be feeling so down during the happiest time in your life? 

During pregnancy and post-childbirth, your body is on a hormone rollercoaster ride.  Often referred to as “Baby Blues”, this period of emotional ups and downs typically lasts a couple of weeks and after that, your emotions should be more evened out.

For some moms, depression after childbirth lasts much longer.  Postpartum depression is a serious condition that makes it difficult for a mom to take care of herself, let alone care for her newborn baby.  

Unfortunately, postpartum depression is still misunderstood but it is not simply a mom not being able to adapt to change and unable to handle motherhood.  It’s not someone being a bad mom. It’s a physical and chemical problem that needs to be treated.  

Symptoms

Nearly all moms will feel some sadness, mood swings, appetite and sleep issues as well as feeling overwhelmed but postpartum depression symptoms are more severe and persist after a couple of weeks.  According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Severe mood swings
  • Depression
  • Crying excessively
  • Problems bonding with your baby
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Loss of energy
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of interest
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities that normally interest you
  • Hopelessness
  • Intense anger
  • Panic attacks
  • Doubt of your abilities as a mother
  • Severe anxiety
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Thoughts of dead or suicide

If these symptoms are left untreated, they could last for months or even years.

Postpartum psychosis, although rare, is another condition that can occur after the birth of your child.  Symptoms include confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, agitation, and attempts of self-harm or harm to your baby.  Postpartum psychosis can be life-threatening and requires immediate treatment.  

Causes

After you give birth, you experience an extreme drop in estrogen and progesterone which is believed to contribute to postpartum depression.  Sleep deprivation, self-doubt, and lack of control could also be a big factor in your depression. The risk for developing postpartum depression is higher if you have experienced it after a previous birth, have a history of depression or bipolar disorder.  If you have difficulty breastfeeding your child, had multiple births, or your child has special needs, you may also be at higher risk of developing postpartum depression.

Treatment

If you have a history of postpartum depression or major depressive disorder, you should talk to your doctor so you can be monitored or treated.  Counseling may help but some anti-depressants may be prescribed during pregnancy.

For the “blues” that new moms usually experience for a couple of weeks after giving birth should go away.  Getting rest and help whenever possible and take some time for yourself should help.

If symptoms persist, it’s important to get help.  Treatment typically is treated with psychotherapy, medication, or possibly both.  With time and the right treatment, symptoms of postpartum depression should subside.  However, if left untreated, the condition could become chronic and develop into major depressive disorder. 

Major depressive disorder may also be treated effectively with psychotherapy and antidepressants but sometimes antidepressants are ineffective.  In this case, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation may be an effective treatment for major depressive disorder. TMS is an FDA-approved treatment for depression that can help reduce symptoms of depression when antidepressants fail to do so. TMS uses magnetic fields to stimulate the area of the brain associated with depression.  GatewayTMS can be an important step in relief from your symptoms of depression. Call us today at (314) 909-8487 to find out TMS treatments could work for you.