What are the Warning Signs of Postpartum Depression?

For many women, the birth of a child is the happiest moment of their life. However, the period after childbirth can be hectic, sleep-deprived, and confusing. Many women may even feel depressed, sad, or lost. You are not alone - more than 3 million women each year in the United States are diagnosed with postpartum depression. Learn more about the disorder, the symptoms, and how to treat it below:

What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is a mental health illness that affects women after giving birth to a child. It is very common, with 10 to 20 percent of new moms in the United States expected to be diagnosed this year alone.  African-American and Hispanic women have a much higher risk of developing it compared to white women. Many new mothers experience “post-baby blues,” which includes sadness, crying, anxiety, and restlessness. These feelings usually go away after one or two weeks, however postpartum depression is longer lasting and more intense.

Postpartum Depression Symptoms

Major symptoms include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Severe mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your child
  • Withdrawing from your significant other, family members, or friends
  • Insomnia
  • Oversleeping
  • Loss of energy
  • No interest in activities you used to love
  • Anger
  • Hopelessness
  • Inability to think clearly, concentrate, or make decisions
  • Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
  • Severe anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your child
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

At ACCESS, all new mothers are screened for these symptoms.

Ways to Treat Postpartum Depression

African-American women not only face a higher chance of developing postpartum depression, but they are also less likely to receive treatment. The sooner a woman is treated for it, the lesser the long-term effects on both the mother and child. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, it  can be treated with therapy and antidepressant medication. Only a medical professional can diagnose you properly. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, reach out to a doctor right away.

What causes Postpartum Depression?

There are many factors, but it cannot be caused by something you did or didn’t do during pregnancy according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It is caused by both physical and emotional factors. Women who have had prior experience with depression, people with a stressful life event before or after giving birth, those with a lack of emotional support, and people with a history of alcohol or drug abuse are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression.

How We Can Help

If you are experiencing problems that prevent you from feeling your best for you and your child, or you are experiencing any of the above symptoms after giving birth, ACCESS’ medical and behavioral health providers can help. We help treat your postpartum symptoms, help you adjust to life as a new parent and build your confidence and support in reaching overall health and wellness for yourself and your child. 

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As of November 12, 2022