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Postpartum Depression

AMBULATORY CARE:

Postpartum depression

is a mood disorder that occurs after your baby is born. Your symptoms may last up to 12 months after delivery. Your symptoms may become serious and affect your daily activities and relationships. The exact cause is not known. Hormone levels that increased during pregnancy suddenly drop after your baby is born. This can cause your symptoms. A past episode of postpartum depression or a family history of depression may increase your risk. A C-section may also be done if you are pregnant with more than 1 baby. Postpartum depression may also be trigged by a lack of support at home, stress, or medical problems.

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Feeling sad, anxious, tearful, discouraged, hopeless, or alone
  • Thoughts that you are not a good mother
  • Trouble completing daily tasks, concentrating, or remembering things
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lack interest in your baby
  • Feeling restless, irritable, or withdrawn
  • An overwhelmed feeling with your new baby and a belief that it will not get better
  • Feeling unimportant or guilty most of the time
  • Trouble sleeping, even after the baby is asleep

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You think about hurting yourself or your baby.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your feelings of depression or sadness are strong.

Call your doctor if:

  • Your symptoms last most of the day for days in a row.
  • Your symptoms last more than 1 week.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

How postpartum depression is diagnosed:

Healthcare providers will talk to you about how you are feeling and ask if you have any depression. These talks can happen during appointments for your medical care and for your baby's care, such as well child visits. Talk to your providers about the following:

  • When you started to feel depressed, and if it is getting worse over time
  • Problems you are having with daily activities, sleep, or caring for your baby
  • If anything makes your depression worse, or makes you feel better
  • Feeling that you are not bonding with your baby the way you want
  • Any problems your baby has with sleeping or feeding
  • If your baby is fussy or cries a lot
  • Support you have from friends, family, or others

Treatment

may include any of the following:

  • A therapist can help you find ways to cope with your feelings. This can be done alone or in a group.
  • Antidepressants help decrease or stop your symptoms.

Self-care:

You may feel better quickly, or if may take a few weeks to feel better. Be patient with yourself. Do the following to take care of yourself:

  • Rest as needed. Take a nap or rest while your baby sleeps. Ask someone to watch your baby while you nap.
  • Get emotional support. Share your feelings with your partner, a friend, or another mother. Ask your partner, friends, or family to help with cooking or cleaning. Do only what is needed and let other things wait until later.
  • Exercise when you can. Even 5 or 10 minutes of exercise can help improve your mood. Walk around the block or do some stretching exercises.
    Walking for Exercise
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Do not skip meals.
    Healthy Foods
  • Take care of yourself. Shower and dress each day. Write in a journal. Celebrate small achievements, even if it is only 1 thing a day. Try to get out of the house a little each day. Meet a friend for coffee.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Your doctor may refer you to a therapist or other specialist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.

Learn more about Postpartum Depression (Ambulatory Care)

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.