Welcoming a new baby into your life is an exciting moment. But for some moms, feelings of happiness after giving birth mix with intense feelings of sadness and worry that can last a long time. These feelings can make it difficult for you to take care of yourself and your baby. This is called postpartum depression (also known as PPD).
PPD is a kind of depression that some women get after having a baby. But you’re not alone. In fact, up to 1 out of every 7 women has PPD, making it the most common complication for new moms. Postpartum depression can happen any time after having a baby. Often times, it starts within 1 to 3 weeks of having a baby.
How do you know if it’s PPD?
The exact causes of PPD are not known. We know that it can happen to any woman after giving birth, and that perhaps the changing hormones after pregnancy may lead to PPD. We also know that there are some things that may make you more likely than other women to have PPD, such as having a family health history of depression, and having had a stressful event in your life, like having a baby in the NICU. However, one of the most important things you can do is learn the signs of PPD.
You may have PPD if you have 5 or more of the following signs of PPD that last longer than 2 weeks:
Changes in your feelings:
- Feeling depressed most of the day every day
- Feeling shame, guilt or like a failure
- Feeling panicky or scared a lot of the time
- Having severe mood swings
Changes in your everyday life:
- Having little interest in things you normally like to do
- Feeling tired all the time
- Eating a lot more or a lot less than is normal for you
- Gaining or losing weight
- Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
Changes in how you think about yourself or your baby:
- Having trouble bonding with your baby
- Thinking about hurting yourself or your baby
- Thinking about killing yourself
If you think you have PPD, call your health care provider right away. If you’re worried about hurting yourself or your baby, call emergency services at 911.
PPD is a medical condition that needs treatment to get better. PPD is not your fault. You didn’t do anything to cause PPD and you can get help to help you feel better and enjoy being a mom.
For more information and support:
- Postpartum Support International, 800-944-4PPD (4773)
- National Alliance on Mental Illness, 800-950-NAMI (6264)
- National Institute of Mental Health
- Postpartum Progress
- Substance and Mental Health Services Administration
- Mental Health America, 800-273-TALK (8255)