Not just the baby blues? Postpartum Depression

Jul 30, 2018

A study out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts suggests that having a baby in the summer could be linked to higher rates of postpartum depression. Of the hundreds of thousands of women who suffer from a postpartum mood disorder, only 15 percent of them get treated often due to the stigma associated. This leads to a silent suffering when support is so critically needed. The Erie County Anti Stigma Coalition aims to change that definition by starting a conversation about stigma and changing the dialogue.

Experts report that up to 70 percent of all women experience symptoms of the baby blues within the first week of giving birth. Defined as temporary moodiness, the baby blues, usually begins in the days following childbirth when a new mother may have sudden mood swings, feeling very happy at one moment and then very sad, impatient, irritable, restless, anxious and lonely. The baby blues may last only a few hours or as long as 1-2 weeks after delivery.

Postpartum depression is different from the baby blues. Symptoms of postpartum depression usually develop a few weeks after delivery but can occur at any time during the first year after childbirth. These symptoms are more persistent, intense and last longer than those of the baby blues. According to research by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) about 1 in 9 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression.

“Breathe with me. You are safe. Breathe with me. You can calm yourself. Breathe with me. You can handle this. These moments are tough and you are not alone … Remember mistakes are opportunities for learning and imperfections do not equal inadequacies. You are enough.”
Honest Body Project

Symptoms of postpartum depression may include frequent crying; sleep disturbances, feelings of anger/irritability, suicidal thoughts, and sometimes anxiety or panic attacks. The new mom may feel overwhelmed, inadequate, and unable to cope. Although exhausted, she is usually unable to sleep. She may worry obsessively about the baby’s health, while feeling guilty about not bonding emotionally to her child.

While researchers are still unsure of what exactly causes postpartum depression. It is most likely caused by a number of factors that vary from individual to individual, including, the dramatic change in hormone levels occurring during pregnancy and postpartum (some women are more sensitive to this change than others), sleep deprivation, the psychological stresses of new motherhood, previous postpartum or clinical depression, and a family history of depression.

Women have reported that they did not seek help because they are too embarrassed or ashamed to admit their feelings or how they felt about them, some did not feel that their symptoms were serious enough to warrant discussion and others noted that they did not want to be labeled mentally ill.

Left untreated, postpartum depression can last for months or years and can affect the mother’s health and interfere with her ability to connect with and care for her baby. If you recognize symptoms of postpartum depression in a new mother encourage her to talk with a health care provider, offer emotional support and assist with daily tasks such as caring for the baby or the home.

If you’re dealing with a mental health challenge, you are not alone. Approximately 1 in 5 Western New Yorkers are living with a mental health diagnosis, yet many of these people suffer in silence because of the discrimination that goes along with it. So, our Coalition started a conversation to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. When we talk about mental health, we help everyone find his or her voice.

Sources: Livescience Center for Disease Control

In extremely rare instances (1 or 2 women in 1,000) a woman might experience postpartum psychosis.

While this illness is also generally developed in the postpartum period, the illness is characterized by a loss of contact with reality for extended periods of time. Symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, rapid mood swings, and suicidal thoughts or actions. Postpartum psychosis is a serious emergency and requires immediate help.

If you are in crisis please reach out for help Crisis Services is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 716-834-3131

Postpartum depression symptom checker:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed
  • Crying more often than usual or for no apparent reason
  • Worrying or feeling overly anxious
  • Feeling moody, irritable, or restless
  • Oversleeping, or being unable to sleep even when her baby is asleep
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Experiencing anger or rage
  • Losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
  • Suffering from physical aches and pains, including frequent headaches, stomach problems, and muscle pain
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family
  • Having trouble bonding or forming an emotional attachment with her baby
  • Persistently doubting her ability to care for her baby
  • Thinking about harming herself or her baby

The Mental Health Association of Erie County offers free and anonymous screenings for mental health. All information is confidential. This is a screening tool only, not a diagnostic.

Postpartum Support Group

WNY Postpartum Connection

The Postpartum Resource Center of New York

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