Baby Blues: What New Parents Should Know About Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is more common than many people realize. In fact, one in nine women may experience postpartum depression according to recent research. If you suspect that you or your partner are experiencing postpartum depression, seeking medical help is crucial.

In the meantime, understanding the condition will also help you build compassion for yourself and your partner. Seeing the impact the condition can have may prompt you to seek help sooner.

The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression Vary Widely

While the condition is called depression, this does not mean that new parents are constantly crying or feeling sad all the time. The symptoms are often much more complex than this. For instance, you might feel some sort of intense guilt following the birth that lasts weeks or months.

You might also find yourself losing interest in the things you once loved. Some people think about harming themselves, and others experience intense insomnia even while the baby is sleeping.

Some Women Face Higher Risk of Depression

Women are more likely to face depression if they have a history of depression. Women with severe premenstrual syndrome and those who lack social support also fit into this category. Traumatic life events also trigger depression symptoms.

If you are at risk, be on the lookout for symptoms and alert your doctor if you notice anything unusual. You have options for treatment.

Postpartum Depression Occurs in Men Too

New fathers may also experience the symptoms of depression after the birth of a new baby. Some of the symptoms associated with postpartum depression in men are similar to those found in women, but they often also include anxiety about finances. Men with a history of depression are at higher risk for the condition.

Sleep Deprivation Worsens Postpartum Depression

Every new parent loses out on sleep in the initial months after a child is born. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation only worsens the symptoms associated with postpartum depression. Even non-parents who miss sleep can grow emotionally and physically exhausted. When you have just undergone a major life change like having a baby, the results can be even more difficult to contend with.

Support Is Necessary to Prevent Depression

New parents need support, but all too many never receive it. The truth is that many new parents are scared to talk about depression, often fearing that they will be accused of being a bad parent. Finding a support network can be a tremendous help.

Finally, remember that medical treatment is available for women and men with postpartum depression. Medications and talk therapy, separate or combined, can provide relief for new parents trying to move forward. Contact a doctor for help.