Wednesday, December 8, 2021
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Postpartum Depression: Understanding the Basics

Having a baby is a big life transition. Whether it is your first or fourth child, bringing home a new baby is a big change in your life.

A new baby means an increase in the work around the home, decreased sleep and new responsibilities. During the first few weeks to months of your baby’s life, it is common to experience chronic fatigue, loss of enjoyment in activities, difficulties with focus and concentration and depressed mood.

Some experience an increase in their symptoms and develop Postpartum Depression or PPD.

As some depressive symptoms are expected after giving birth it can be difficult to know when one is experiencing typical transitional difficulties or symptoms of PPD. We will briefly review some of the more common symptoms of PPD and discuss how these symptoms can differ from a typical adjustment to having a baby at home.

Time Adjustment

Typically after a few weeks, you grow accustomed to the life changes your baby has created. As you adjust the experienced symptoms decrease. Symptoms of PPD are persistent and often do not improve.

“When a new parent is suffering from PPD they might find it very difficult to bond with their child.”

For example even as you are able to get more sleep, you are still not sleeping, or not feeling rested despite getting more sleep.

Postpartum Depression Symptoms and Severity

Postpartum Depression symptoms tend to be worse or more extreme than typical transitional symptoms.

For example while feeling fatigued from lack of sleep, usually, you can still function enough to do what you need to, whereas with PPD you might not be able to get yourself up to be functional. With typical adjustment, you might have difficulty focusing on a conversation, with PPD you might be completely unable to focus.

Typical adjustment can cause you to feel tearful and emotional, while with PPD you might feel at the mercy of your emotions.

Bonding Difficulties with Your Child and Postpartum Depression

Oxytocin is often called the love hormone, it is the hormone that helps with feeling bonded and connected to your child. The bond that parents feel toward their children is what helps them make such great sacrifices for their own health and well-being, and helps them feel willing to tolerate this screaming popping thing that has taken over their lives.

When a new parent is suffering from PPD they might find it very difficult to bond with their child. The difficulty with bonding can make it more difficult for the new parent to do what they need to in order to care for their baby.

Self-Harm or Harming Your Child

When one is adjusting to a baby it is NOT typical to think of killing yourself or your baby. Those suffering from PPD can have symptoms that include thoughts of suicide, or of killing their child. Any such symptoms need to be taken seriously and the new parent needs help and support.

“Postpartum Depression symptoms tend to be worse or more extreme than typical transitional symptoms.”

If you think you are experiencing any Postpartum Depression symptoms, go to see your doctor immediately. For some medication is needed, others do well with extra support to include help from friends and family and therapy. There is a wealth of information available on PPD one page I would recommend is the Mayo Clinic.

If you are working through the symptoms of PPD know you are not alone and that there is help available to you.

Check out more articles written by Dr. Megan Connell here!

Dr. Megan Connell
Dr. Megan Connell is a board certified licensed psychologist. Before joining the team at Southeast Psych she was a psychologist with the US Army for six years, to include a deployment to Iraq. She enjoys working with individuals struggling with anxiety, trauma, issues related to motivation and life transitions.


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