How Do I Know If I Have Postpartum Depression?
When it comes to after-delivery healing, people tend to focus much more on the outward physical aspect of postpartum recovery, like losing pregnancy weight and reducing the appearance of c-section scarring before bringing attention to the mother's mental health.
In the United States alone, the reported rate of clinical postpartum depression among women is between 10 –20%. However, it's believed that postpartum depression affects significantly more women, but it often goes unreported, undiagnosed, and untreated.
In this article, we'll discuss the difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression, cover the common symptoms, and what you can do if you're experiencing this condition.
- Baby Blues And Postpartum Depression — What's The Difference?
- Common Postpartum Depression Symptoms
- What Causes Postpartum Depression?
- What Can You Do To Treat Postpartum Depression?
- Professional Counseling
- Group Therapy/ Support Groups
- Getting Practical Help With Childcare And Other Demands Of Daily Life
- Exercise Daily
- Bellefit Postpartum Girdles And Corsets
- To Wrap Up: Postpartum Depression
Baby Blues And Postpartum Depression — What's The Difference?
Up to 80% of mothers experience negative feelings, mood swings, and anxiety after childbirth. This collection of symptoms is called the "baby blues," and it typically surfaces a few days after your baby is born and can last up to 2 weeks after delivery.
While it's certainly not pleasant, the baby blues are a completely normal experience post-pregnancy. For many women, the early days of motherhood is a challenging time. In essence, you're experiencing the aftermath of hormonal pregnancy changes, adjusting to life with a new baby, and recovering from labor.
The most crucial distinction between the baby blues and postpartum depression is the intensity and duration ofthese symptoms. The baby blues shouldn't last longer than a few weeks. If your baby blues intensify or don't fade, you may be suffering from postpartum depression, which does require professional attention.
Common Postpartum Depression Symptoms
It can be challenging to differentiate between the baby blues and postpartum depression because many of the symptoms overlap. Additionally, each woman's case varies drastically, which is why it's such a challenge to pinpoint whether or not a mother is experiencing postpartum depression, a symptom of another illness, or a side-effect from medication.
What you can do is make yourself aware of common symptoms of depression, monitor your mental health, and reach out for help when you need it.
Here's a list of common postpartum depression symptoms from the National Institute of Mental Health:
- Difficulty concentrating and impaired decision making
- Decreased libido
- Oversleeping or insomnia
- Frequent and extreme mood swings
- Feeling overwhelmed and hopeless
- It can manifest in physical aches such as frequent headaches, digestive issues, and muscle pain
- Having trouble bonding with the baby
- Experience social anxiety, which may result in withdrawal from family and friends
- Change in appetite (overeating or complete loss of appetite)
- Doubting ability as a mother to care for the baby
- Thoughts of self-harm or hurting the baby
- Suicidal thoughts
Postpartum Psychosis And Symptoms
Postpartum psychosis is rare, but it is a serious condition as the woman is experiencing a separation from reality. The onset occurs in the first two weeks after childbirth and includes the following symptoms:
- Delusions and hallucinations
- Drastic mood swings
- Difficulty communicating
The good news is that postpartum psychosis is temporary and treatable — but it requires immediate professional help. If you know someone or believe you're experiencing postpartum psychosis, contact your doctor or an emergency line if anyone is in immediate danger.
How Can You Tell If You Have Postpartum Depression?
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is a questionnaire designed to screen postpartum depression. If it gives you peace of mind, we recommend taking the screening for yourself, but you should still bring your concerns regarding your post-pregnancy mental health to your doctor.
Only a professional health care provider can diagnose you for postpartum depression. Still, it's good to make yourself aware of the symptoms and reach out to a health professional right away.
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
There isn't a single cause for postpartum depression, which is another reason why it's difficult to recognize. Postpartum depression is likely a result of a combination of the extreme physical and emotional demands of pregnancy.
Immediately after childbirth, progesterone and estrogen levels drop to their lowest points. Low levels of progesterone and estrogen can lead to mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, and other symptoms of depression. Your progesterone and estrogen levels will balance out on their own, but it can take up to six weeks to feel like yourself again.
Hormone imbalances, adjusting to motherhood, sleep deprivation, and physical discomfort can all contribute to the symptoms of depression.
As you can see, the baby blues and postpartum depression don't discriminate. But certain factors can put you more at risk of experiencing postpartum depression.
Risk Factors For Postpartum Depression
- History of depression
- Genetic predisposition
- First-time motherhood
- Life stress: financial worries, relationship problems, work stress, death of a loved one
- Not prepared to care for this baby
- Medical complications during childbirth
- Substance abuse problems
What Can You Do To Treat Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression usually requires professional treatment because it's a serious condition that can impede a woman's ability to care for herself and her family. If you are experiencing postpartum depression, you're not alone, and there is a world of support ready to help you.
There is no shame in reaching out for the help that you need. If you're diagnosed with postpartum depression, your doctor may offer recommendations for a mental health professional who specializes in postpartum depression.
Alternatively, the Postpartum Stress Center can connect you with specialists for treating postpartum mood and anxiety disorders in your area.
Group Therapy/ Support Groups
Many women find support groups extremely helpful for their postpartum depression recovery. It's healing to take off the "perfect mother" mask society expects of you, share your experiences, and support other women who understand what you're going through.
It's not uncommon for women suffering from postpartum depression to go on a treatment that includes therapy and medication. You'll need to talk to your doctor about this treatment option, but the most common prescriptions for postpartum depression address sleep and appetite changes, like antidepressants.
Getting Practical Help With Childcare And Other Demands Of Daily Life
You don't have to go through this alone, but sometimes new mothers don't know where to go for help. Tell your partner, parents, family members, or close friends that you're experiencing postpartum depression, and accept the help they offer (babysitting, preparing meals, laundry, and house chores). The lending hands will allow you to take time to catch up on the rest, go to your support groups, and exercise to prioritize your health.
Exercising releases feel-good hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins that combat anxiety and can change the perception of pain.
Bellefit postpartum girdles and corsets can help you get to exercising sooner and help decrease your post-pregnancy recovery period. Medical grade compression garments like the ones we offer at Bellefit helps to protect the lower back and abdominal muscles for improved posture increased range of motion, and feel supported in your exercises.
Bellefit Postpartum Girdles And Corsets
At Bellefit, our number one priority is helping women feel supported and confident after pregnancy with a range of high-quality post-pregnancy recovery garments like girdles, corsets, and waist trainers.
We have a fantastic community of Bellefit moms who share their postpartum recovery journeys, using our girdles to help them get back to their pre-pregnancy bodies sooner.
Our post-pregnancy girdles and corsets come in eight styles from sizes XS –3XL. Each garment is made from breathable, flexible, hypoallergenic fabrics and uses medical-grade compression to reduce pain, swelling, and increase your trunk range of motion to speed your recovery time.
To Wrap Up: Postpartum Depression
Stepping into the chapter of parenthood is a significant transition in one's life, and the physical and emotional demands are arduous — but it does get easier.
It's essential to understand what your body is going through post-pregnancy to grasp what you'll need for your postpartum recovery. There is often so much emphasis on the pregnancy that post-pregnancy mental health is often overlooked.
Only a doctor will be able to diagnose you with postpartum depression. Still, it's a good idea to look out for the signs of postpartum depression so that you can seek the support you need to overcome it and get back to feeling like your usual self.
When it comes to caring for your body post-pregnancy, we've got you covered with our medical-grade, doctor recommended girdles and corsets. One of the best ways to look after your mental health is to make sure you get regular exercise, and our compression garments can help support you through your movements by keeping pain at bay and increasing mobility.
You don't have to go through postpartum depression alone, and there are many helpful resources and support networks we recommend you join.