Postpartum Depression Support
It is normal to experience the “baby blues” during the first days and weeks after giving birth. You may have feelings of disappointment, irritability or anxiety that usually go away without treatment.
However, these feelings could also be a sign of postpartum depression, which is much more serious and longer-lasting than the baby blues.
Causes and Symptoms
Postpartum depression is the most common complication of childbirth. Although the exact cause of postpartum depression remains unclear, it is likely that a number or factors are involved. Changing family roles, hormonal changes, stress, marital strife and a family history of mental illness can all contribute to postpartum depression. Common symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Fatigue or exhaustion
- Inability to concentrate
- A fear of harming your baby or yourself
- Mood swings characterized by exaggerated highs and lows
- Diminished sex drive
- Feelings of guilt
- Low self-esteem
- Uncontrolled crying with no known cause
- Extreme worry for your baby
- Lack of interest in your baby
- Appetite changes
- Sleep disturbances
- Memory loss
- Feelings of isolation
If you believe you are suffering from postpartum depression, it is very important that you get proper treatment as soon as possible—not only to ensure that your baby is safe and properly cared for but to help you feel like yourself again and enjoy motherhood.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If your physician suspects that you are suffering from postpartum depression, he or she will conduct a complete physical exam and review your medical history. Your physician may order a thyroid screening to detect any hormonal or metabolic abnormalities. You may also be referred for psychiatric evaluation by a PinnacleHealth specialist.
Your physician will determine the best course of treatment for you based on your age, health, medical history, severity and duration of symptoms, tolerance for medications, breastfeeding status, and your personal preferences. Treatments may include:
- Medication such as hormonal treatments and/or antidepressants
- Psychological treatment, which may include other family members
- Peer support in the form of support groups or educational classes
- Stress management and relaxation training
- Assertiveness training, which helps women learn to set limits to prevent becoming overwhelmed
If you’re experiencing the signs of postpartum depression, contact PinnacleHealth Psychological Associates at (717) 231-8360 or crisis intervention in your county:
- Western Cumberland and Perry counties: (717) 243-6005
- Eastern Cumberland and Perry counties: (717) 763-2222
- Dauphin County: (717) 232-7511
- York County: (717) 851-5352
You can also contact Postpartum Support International (PSI) coordinators. PSI provides support, encouragement and information about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum depression. Visit or call 1-800-944-4PPD (4773) for local help.
IF YOU BELIEVE YOU MAY HARM YOURSELF OR YOUR BABY, CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER, 911 OR GO TO THE NEAREST EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT.
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