Up to 4 in 5 new moms feel sad, anxious, overwhelmed, or just plain tired after giving birth. It’s no wonder so many new mothers get the “baby blues.” Even if delivery went well, mothers are bound to be short on sleep and long on responsibilities.
Most women get the baby blues within a few days of giving birth. These feelings usually disappear 3 to 5 days after they start.
If a new mother’s blues persist longer than 2 weeks, she may have a more serious condition called postpartum depression (PPD). It’s also possible to develop PPD during pregnancy or up to a year after childbirth.
The following signs may indicate PPD:
Crying more often than usual (or for no apparent reason)
Losing interest or pleasure in activities that are usually enjoyable
Eating too little or too much
Feeling moody, irritable, restless, or angry
Having no energy or motivation
Oversleeping or being unable to fall asleep
Having a lack of interest in the baby
Constantly doubting ability to care for the baby
Trouble concentrating or making decisions
Feeling worthlessness, hopeless, or guilty
Thinking about hurting oneself or the baby
PPD affects 1 in 9 new mothers. It can make it hard for women to get through the day and undermine the confidence they need to care for their baby. Untreated, PPD could even interfere with the baby’s development.
PPD can be easy to ignore. After all, tiredness and other symptoms may result from sleep loss. A healthcare provider can determine whether symptoms are springing from another health condition. Anemia, for example, can make you feel tired and irritable. Thyroid disorders can also cause symptoms similar to PPD.
Any new mother can get PPD. But a woman’s health history and current circumstances can influence her odds.
Factors that increase the risk for PPD include having:
Medical complications during childbirth
Personal history of depression or bipolar disorder
Relationship or money problems
Stressful life events during pregnancy or right after giving birth
Little social support
PPD can be treated with talk therapy, medicine, or both. Your provider can help you choose the right treatment.
If you suffer from PPD, the following coping strategies may also help:
Find a trusted friend or family member to talk with.
Seek help with childcare, household chores, and errands.
Take time each day to do something special for yourself.
Rest as much as you can—sleep when the baby does.
Join a support group for mothers with PPD.