Post-partum depression is major depression that is caused by and immediately follows childbirth, a miscarriage, or a stillbirth. New mothers experience many strange feelings, but postpartum depression is severe enough to affect functioning. The condition may interfere with a mother’s ability to bond with her baby at a time when it is crucial to the child’s development, so it is very important to address depression after pregnancy and not to ignore warning signs.
- Doubting one’s ability to be a mother
- Failure to bond with the baby
- Anxiety about motherhood
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feelings of emptiness
- Decreased appetite
- Loss of focus
- Fear of judgment about the condition
Postpartum depression can be caused by physiological changes in hormone levels during and after pregnancy. Having a history of depression puts one at a higher risk. The baby’s behavior may also cause postpartum depression. Babies that are colicky or otherwise more difficult to manage put greater stress on a mother. Family history should be consulted if postpartum depression is suspected to be the cause of changes in mood after childbirth.
Because postpartum depression is likely a medical issue, it can be treated with antidepressants. Therapy is also highly recommended to give a mother an outlet to express feelings about motherhood that relate to the depression. Exercise and diet are also important in returning to pre-pregnancy lifestyles.
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