Postpartum Depression

Hormonal changes in women may contribute to postpartum depression.

Hormones directly affect the brain chemistry and controls emotion and moods.

Women are more at risk for depression at certain times in our lives, eg: during puberty, during and after pregnancy as well as perimenopause. Some of us even have depressed feelings right before that time of the month.

Feeling depressed after childbirth is called Postpartum Depression. When a woman is pregnant her levels of estrogen and progesterone increase greatly.

In the 24 hours after childbirth, these hormones levels go back to normal. This could lead to depression. It's almost the same as those hormonal changes we experience before our menstrual cycle.

Your thyroid levels can also drop after giving birth. Your thyroid is a small gland in the neck that helps regulate how your body stores energy from food.

Low levels of thyroid hormone can cause you to feel depressed.

Your doctor will have a simple blood test done to determine this and if need be a thyroid medication will be prescribed. Some of the things women experience that can contribute to our depressed feeling are:

  • tired after delivery
  • tired from lack of sleep
  • overwhelmed with a new baby
  • doubts about being a good mom
  • stress from changes of work and home routine
  • feeling like you need to be perfect
  • loss of identity
  • less attractive
  • no free time

More severe are thoughts of:

  • hurting your baby
  • hurting yourself
  • don't have any interest in your baby

If you have any of these feelings you need to see a doctor.

Postpartum Blues

Women can have the blues right after childbirth and therefore, maybe experiencing:

  • mood swings
  • feel sad, anxious, overwhelmed
  • cry
  • lose your appetite
  • trouble sleeping

It's estimated that between 50% - 80% of mothers experience the blues. These feelings will pass and don't need treatment.

If your baby blues don't go away within 2 weeks, you may be depressed. Consult your doctor.

Up to 20% of new mothers experience post depression and you should know that you are not to blame.

If you think a friend or relative may be suffering from this, offer to help them out. You may be able to direct them to some useful sources of information. Easing the isolation one feels is an important step.

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