Postpartum Depression: Warning Signs, Facts, and Resources – Choice Clinic Life Resource Center

Women often experience a wide array of emotions following giving birth. Although welcoming a new baby into the world is certainly exciting, many women encounter emotions that aren’t always positive. If this is you, know that these feelings are completely normal and you are not alone!

Postpartum depression, a mental health condition characterized by feelings such as anger, sadness, anxiety, or hopelessness during or following pregnancy, is more common than one might think. Unlike the baby blues, which typically subside within two weeks, PPD is more severe and can last for months if left untreated.

The exact cause of PPD is not known, but several factors may contribute to its development:

  • Hormonal Changes: After childbirth, levels of estrogen and progesterone drop rapidly, which can contribute to mood swings and depressive symptoms.
  • History of Depression: Women with a history of depression or other mental health conditions are at a higher risk.
  • Emotional Factors: Feeling overwhelmed with the new responsibilities of motherhood, anxiety about caring for the baby, and having an unrealistic expectation of oneself can contribute to PPD.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Lack of support from partner or family, financial stress, and having a difficult baby (colic, sleep issues) can increase the risk.
  • Physical Factors: Exhaustion from labor, delivery, and caring for a newborn can exacerbate feelings of depression.

PPD can interfere with a mother’s ability to care for herself and her baby, making early recognition and intervention crucial. It is important to be able to recognize the warning signs of postpartum depression, know how to get help, and understand what resources are available to guide you as you navigate these new emotions.

Some of the most commonly known indications of postpartum depression are sadness, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed. However, other signs that are not as talked about include shame, guilt, a loss of interest in activities that used to bring you joy, changes in eating, sleep, and exercise patterns, and withdrawal from people who care about you. In more severe instances, some mothers may experience thoughts of hurting themselves, their baby, or their partner. If you have found yourself in a crisis, there are a few resources available that you can call for immediate help:

  • The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-852-6262
  • The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988
  • Emergency Services: 911

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be experiencing postpartum depression, know that you are certainly not alone and that there is no shame in reaching out for help. In fact, 1 in every 8 women are estimated to experience postpartum depression within the first year after birth. If you are a friend, spouse, or loved one of someone you are concerned may be navigating postpartum depression, you should encourage them to reach out for help. While some of these emotions, like worry and nervousness about parenting, are completely normal when temporary, it is a good idea to seek additional support if symptoms persist for more than two weeks, or anytime you become concerned about your mental health. Trained professionals, such as counselors and therapists, can help you process your emotions and formulate a plan to grow through them and overcome them.

If you would like to speak with someone who can listen to your concerns, encourage you, and help you find resources, our Choices staff is ready to help! To review the services we offer and contact our office, see here.