Concerned about postpartum depression?
If you haven’t experienced depression or postpartum depression before, it can seem daunting and even scary.
How long will it last? Do I need medication? Is this normal? . . .
You probably have lots of questions with the main one being when you can expect relief.
Here’s some information on what to do if you feel you may have postpartum depression and how long you can expect it to last.
PPD vs “Baby Blues”
Most women have heard the term “Baby Blues,” but postpartum depression hasn’t always been a well-known or talked about condition.
It’s very normal for women to experience a downturn in mood after having a baby. According to American Pregnancy, up to 80% of women report feeling mild depressive symptoms after giving birth including:
- Mild mood swings
- General sadness
- Increased anxiety
- Brain fog
- Changes in appetite
- Sleep disruption
On the other hand, Postpartum Depression is a much more serious condition with severe emotional effects. It’s less common, but still prevalent, with about 15% of women needing treatment, according to the National Library of Medicine.
PPD hasn’t always received adequate attention in the medical field, but thankfully, doctors are now much more vigilant about arming new mothers with the information and resources they need to diagnose and treat this condition.
If you haven’t already, you will likely be given a screening questionnaire with each of your postpartum visits.
Here’s what to look out for:
- Severe changes in mood
- Depressed feelings
- An inability to bond with your newborn
- Isolation and social withdrawal
- Severe changes in appetite (eating too much or too little)
- Intense anger or rage
- Hopelessness and loss of self worth
- Wanting to harm yourself or your baby
- Extreme anxiety and panic attacks
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should tell a loved one and schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. Your doctor can prescribe treatment options and medication to help get these reactions under control.
Remember that PPD and other Postpartum Mood Disorders are nothing to be ashamed of. Most women who are diagnosed and receive proper medical attention are able to lead normal and happy lives.
It’s much better to seek help than jeopardize the health and well-being of you or your child.
“Baby Blues” are very short term. These mild feelings will last for a few days up to a couple weeks.
On the other hand, postpartum depression can last for several months or years and is much less circumstantial.
How long it takes for you to recover, will depend on your unique body composition, whether you seek treatment and what medications your doctor recommends.
While PPD may not go away in the short term, it can be managed so you can find happiness and joy with your family and circumstances again.
If you’re breastfeeding, make sure your doctor is aware so you’re prescribed the safest antidepressant for you and baby.
What To Do In The Meantime
There are lots of things you can do to help treat and mitigate the effects of PPD and thankfully, for most women it’s not permanent.
- Take care of your body and your health. Learn how it feels after giving birth and the tips for a quicker recovery.
- Follow all guidelines for what not to do during the postpartum period.
- Determine when you can start household work, and enlist the help of family and friends.
- Use your support system of family and friends for breaks, “me time” to invest in your self-care, and for trusted conversations.
- Take prescribed medications from your doctor and closely follow any other instructions.
- Make newborn care easier with proven tips from credible first time mom books and mom-tested newborn baby hacks.
Above all, give yourself grace!
It’s okay if less important things fall to the wayside for a bit. Release yourself from mom guilt or shame and get advice from other moms who’ve been there.
My email inbox is always open if you need someone to talk to!
If you need more tips and advice, here are several more articles for the first time mom for pregnancy, postpartum and beyond.