Postpartum Depression (PPD)

Postpartum Depression (PPD) can affect a woman during pregnancy and after childbirth. Common symptoms of PPD are more severe than baby blues with symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, and nagging self-doubt about mothering skills.

Postpartum Depression can be moderate to severe and can occur within the first year of delivery. Postpartum Depression usually occurs within the first three months though it can span through the first year pending on the baby’s sleep pattern.

What is Postpartum Depression?

A new mom faces a lot of challenges getting used to a newborn. A new mom will also be sleep deprived with a newborn that wakes up several times a night. A new mom will also experience physical changes with breast pain from breastfeeding and healing after the delivery of the baby. All this can cause baby blues (Postpartum Depression).

Types of Postpartum Depression:

  • Postpartum Depression (baby blues)- moderate symptoms lasting only a couple of weeks after child birth
  • Postpartum psychosis-agitation, confusion, memory problems, irritability, worsening insomnia, and anxiety
  • Postpartum anxiety disorder-anxiety that makes it difficult to take care of newborn; unable to eat or sleep, afraid of hurting newborn, panic attacks (This type of Postpartum Depression requires medical attention)
  • Postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder- intrusive thoughts about newborn that continue to persist, repetitive actions that reduce new mother to fear and obsession, fear of being left alone with baby, abnormal protection of baby, this disorder does create bizarre thoughts but mother is unlikely to act on them
  • Postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder- caused by complications during birth or the loss of the baby; flashbacks (nightmares), avoiding feelings, people, events; irritable, insomnia, easily startled, anxiety and panic attacks. (counseling and medical help are required)

Causes for Postpartum Depression (baby blues)

  • A new mother will experience changes in her body from the pregnancy and delivery.
  • There are also changes in work and social relationships following the birth of a baby.
  • New mothers have less free time for leisure
  • Lack of sleep
  • Concerns about being a good mother.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression (baby blues):

  • Feeling down, distant, or tired
  • Loss of interest in activities and sex
  • Change in eating and sleeping habits
  • Angry or irritable
  • Scattered feelings and confusion

Can Postpartum Depression be avoided?

Postpartum Depression presents a higher risk in females who:

  • Are under 20 years of age
  • Use alcohol, illegal substances or smoke (these cause serious health risks to baby)
  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • History of depression
  • Little to no support during pregnancy and after birth of baby

Is there treatment for Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum Depression may be treated with medicine or counseling. These methods are only necessary if the depression lasts longer than two weeks and if symptoms become severe. At home methods of treatment would include more sleep and having a support system from spouse, family, or friends.

Contact your neighborhood Texas Health Care Obstetrics & Gynecology clinic in DFW for more information on Postpartum Depression and treatment options.

If Postpartum Depression leads to hallucinations or suicidal thoughts, the new mom should seek immediate help from a physician. If there is any fear of doing harm to the baby or themselves, do not wait and possibly call 911.