Depression is a dark and scary place, never mind the added stigma that our society places around mental illness. Very few people talk about Postpartum Depression because we assume the new parents are just a little fatigued from their new bundle of joy. Creating awareness and knowing the warning signs of postpartum depression is the first step.
Let's start here... What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a type of depression that affects a mother (sometimes the father) following childbirth. Postpartum depression does not have to occur immediately after birth but can develop during the first few weeks after childbirth and in some cases can arise up to 12 months after childbirth.
A recent study suggests that there is a significant spike in progesterone levels in women with depression compared to those without it. An imbalance of estrogen and progesterone has been associated with symptoms of PPD. Toxins and chemicals found in processed foods can further influence this imbalance.
Extreme fatigue is considered one of the early “red flags” of PPD. The obvious life change with a newborn combined with increased energy requirements and sometimes improper nutrition can all contribute to extreme fatigue after a pregnancy. Nurturing your body properly will, in turn, help you care for your newborn better.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
If you have had a baby and have experienced some of these symptoms in the last 12 months you may have PPD.
overwhelmed feelings like you just can not handle being a mother
depressed mood and emptiness
excessive crying for no apparent reason
guilt because you should be handing motherhood better
difficulty bonding with your baby
confused or scared about what is happening
irritated or angry with everything
loss of appetite
you feel disconnected
thoughts of leaving your family
afraid to ask for help
The Canadian Mental Health Association details the difference between natural “baby blues” and PPD. “Baby blues” involves frequent mood swings switching from joyful to depressed, these go away soon after birth. PPD is when the parents experience these mood swings as well as the symptoms listed below for a long period of time. PPD is described as a deep and ongoing depression. Very rare cases will have parents exhibit thoughts of harming their baby, situations like this should warrant a more serious response with a 911 call or immediate medical care.
Nurturing Your Mental Health