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Postpartum Depression Causes & Symptoms

Experiencing a bout of the baby blues is not uncommon after giving birth. In fact, many new moms will experience this phenomenon at some level. But how do you know if what you’re feeling is something more serious? Here are some of the causes and symptoms of postpartum depression. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, see your physician immediately to discuss treatment and postpartum counseling.


Explaining Postpartum Depression

You’ve heard stories about moms who’ve experienced postpartum depression, but what exactly is it? Postpartum depression, or PPD, is a type of depression that affects up to 1 in 7 women following childbirth. Baby blues are usually experienced within the first few days of giving birth and last about a week or two. PPD, however, is a more serious disorder that can last for weeks or months when not treated.


Causes of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression can be caused by a variety of factors, including the intense hormonal changes experienced with childbirth. After giving birth, your levels of progesterone and estrogen drop dramatically. It’s believed that this sudden change in hormonal levels may lead to PPD. Your thyroid hormones may drop after childbirth, which can also cause depression.

Other factors can contribute to postpartum depression. These include the intense emotions you experience after having a baby, lack of support, lack of sleep, stress, and fatigue. Women who have a history of depression may also be at an increased risk of developing PPD. See your Jacksonville OBGYN for postpartum counseling as soon as you experience signs of PPD.


Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

With all the excitement and exhaustion of having a baby, it can be hard to tell if what you’re experiencing is normal. Here are some of the signs and symptoms of PPD that should not be ignored. They may range from moderate to severe depending on the individual.

  • The baby blues aren’t clearing up
  • Feeling overwhelmed or like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel
  • Sadness and crying spells
  • Feelings of fear, anxiety or panic attacks
  • Guilt about how you’re doing as a mom
  • Loss of interest in things you enjoy
  • You feel like you’re not bonding with your baby
  • Feeling disconnected from friends and family
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Change in appetite
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby


Postpartum Counseling and Treatment

If you’ve been experiencing any of the above symptoms, call your OBGYN right away. Your doctor will be able to diagnose if you have postpartum depression or a more severe condition called postpartum psychosis. He or she can provide important postpartum counseling and help you find treatment.

Leaving PPD untreated can impact your ability to care for yourself and your family. It may also lead to long-term depression. That’s why it’s critical to speak with your doctor. Treatments for PPD include counseling, psychotherapy and/or antidepressants. Your doctor will work with you to determine what the best course of treatment is for your situation. It may take several weeks to months, but postpartum depression typically improves significantly with treatment.

For treatment or more information, please contact your healthcare provider at Women’s Physicians of Jacksonville at (904) 296-2441