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Postpartum Depression
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For many women, postpartum depression is a frightening reality. There is a major difference between postpartum depression and the “baby blues” you may feel for a little while after you give birth. The baby blues are a brief period of sadness or negative feelings in the face of new pressures and concerns, or let-downs or fears in post-pregnancy women, not to mention the surge in hormonal changes happening in your body. But if those feelings persist for over a week or more and if the depression is unbearable and controlling your thoughts, you should speak with your provider and get support to cope with postpartum depression.

Very often, postpartum depression will not occur until a month or more after birth. Postpartum depression is a natural part of childbirth, and it can be overcome. If you are experiencing suicidal or violent thoughts after giving childbirth, please talk to someone and seek help immediately. Your provider will be able to help you easily, there are tons of support groups and options that can help you safely overcome these feelings. In fact, it may be comforting to know that postpartum depression is one of the most treatable forms of depression.

Symptoms of postpartum depression include excessive crying, sleep problems, irritability, changes in appetite, hopelessness and sad thoughts, memory loss and the lack of desire to take care of yourself—or your baby. If you experience any of these pronounced symptoms for a prolonged period of time after giving childbirth (over one or two weeks), contact your provider. Your provider will probably conduct a thyroid test which will help to detect any emotional instability linked to hormonal balances. A clinical psychologist who specializes in postpartum depression will be particularly helpful for you. You may also want to explore your medication options, including antidepressants. If you have a history of depression, you might want to talk with your doctor about starting an antidepressant toward the end of pregnancy or directly after birth to curb the possibility of developing postpartum depression.

Some women might develop postpartum psychosis, which is rare but serious. Postpartum psychosis causes a woman to lose her sense of reality, and to become suicidal or violent and experience hallucinations as well as other signs of psychosis. If you feel a distorted perception of reality or if you have any feelings of violence or suicide, contact your provider immediately to get help. Support from family, friends and your partner will help to keep you from acting on any of those delusional feelings of suicide or violence. You might want to avoid being alone for a while if you think you have severe postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis.

Click below to read about related topics.

Introduction
Normal Body Changes
Warning Signs
Sexual Activity & Contraception
Postpartum Depression