WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that occurs after giving birth. A mood is an emotion or a feeling. Moods affect your behavior and how you feel about yourself and life in general. Depression is a sad mood that you cannot control. Women often feel sad, afraid, or nervous after their baby is born. These feelings are called postpartum blues or baby blues, and they usually go away in 1 to 2 weeks. With postpartum depression, these symptoms get worse and continue for more than 2 weeks. Postpartum depression is a serious condition that affects your daily activities and relationships.
- Antidepressants: These medicines are given to decrease or stop the symptoms of depression. You usually need to take antidepressants for several weeks before you begin to feel better. Do not stop taking antidepressants unless your primary healthcare provider tells you to. Caregivers may try a different antidepressant if one type does not work.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or psychiatrist as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
During therapy, you will talk with caregivers about how to cope with your feelings and moods. This can be done alone or in a group. It may also be done with family members or your partner.
- Rest: Do not try to do everything all at the same time. Do only what is needed and let other things wait until later. Ask your family or friends for help, especially if you have other children. Ask your partner to help with night feedings or other baby care. Try to sleep when the baby naps.
- Get emotional support: Share your feelings with your partner, a friend, or another mother.
- Take care of yourself: Shower and dress each day. Do not skip meals. Try to get out of the house a little each day. Get regular exercise. Eat a healthy diet. Avoid alcohol because it can make your depression worse. Do not isolate yourself. Go for a walk or meet with a friend. It is also important that you have some time by yourself each day.
For support and more information:
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Public Information & Communication Branch
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda , MD 20892-9663
Phone: 1- 301 - 443-4513
Phone: 1- 866 - 615-6464
Web Address: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/
Contact your primary healthcare provider or psychiatrist if:
- You cannot make it to your next visit.
- Your depression does not get better with treatment or it gets worse.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You think about hurting or killing yourself, your baby, or someone else.
- You feel like other people want to hurt you.
- You hear voices telling you to hurt yourself or your baby.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.