Understanding Postpartum Depression for New Moms

What are the signs and causes of postpartum depression?

New mom experiencing ppd after giving birth.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a condition that often manifests as a feeling of deep sadness after having a child. While it typically occurs within the first two weeks after giving birth, the condition can develop at any time during the first year.

The postpartum blues are marked by feelings of stress and uncertainty about how to care for a new baby and symptoms of fatigue and weight changes. While there are many similarities, PPD differs from the postpartum blues in its severity. If your symptoms of postpartum blues worsen, it may be a sign of PPD.

Common signs of PPD include:

  • Feelings of loneliness
  • Unexplained crying or sadness
  • Self-doubt/low self-esteem
  • Thoughts of harming your baby
  • Difficulty loving your baby
  • Inability to think clearly
  • Trouble remembering
  • Unexplained feelings of fear and panic
  • Inability to care for yourself or your children
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble feeling happy
  • Mood swings including worry, sadness, fear, and anger
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Feeling easily hurt or upset

Related: What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?

Causes of PPD can include:

  • Family history of the condition
  • Feelings of sadness or unhappiness during pregnancy
  • Unwanted pregnancy
  • Stress during and after pregnancy
  • Low thyroid function
  • Lack of sleep
  • Rapid loss of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone
  • Inability to care for yourself

The good news is that PPD is treatable with professional help through medication, support, and therapy. If you’re feeling off or something doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to speak up and reach out to someone, including your healthcare provider, immediately.

Your well-being matters! Remember, you are not alone.

Take better care of yourself after birth by implementing SUNSHINE.

  • Sleep: Aim for four to six hours of continuous sleep at least three nights a week. Ask a family member or friend to give the first feeding of the night, so you can get enough rest.
  • Understand: Counseling with a trained maternal mental health professional can help prevent and treat mental health issues. Learn more by calling Help Me Grow at 801-691-5322, or by visiting https://www.postpartum.net/.
  • Nutrition: Keep taking your prenatal vitamin for the first year postpartum. When possible, avoid caffeine and sugar, get enough protein and unsaturated fats at every snack and meal, and drink two large pitchers of water daily.
  • Support: Share your feelings with a trusted friend, family member, or support group. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And getting an hour to yourself each day is essential.
  • Humor: Make time for silliness and joy each day. A funny movie, time with friends, or playing with your children can all improve your mood. If laughing seems impossible, it is time to seek professional help.
  • Information: Take the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale each month for the first year after birth. If your score is 10 or above, or you marked anything other than “never” on question 10 about self-harm, immediately contact your healthcare provider.
  • Nurture: Schedule time each week to do things you enjoy outside of motherhood. Take time for spiritual practices, music, art, dates with friends, nature, etc.
  • Exercise: Take 10 to 20 minutes a day to go for a walk. Not only will this help your physical health, but it can boost your mood and improve your mental health as well. If your healthcare provider clears you for exercise, you can try stretching and yoga, too.

Here are other resources:

  • United Way: Call 211 to get connected to community mental health services.
  • Postpartum Support International: An online community that provides support, education, and resources to mothers. Visit postpartum.net or call 800-944-4773
  • The Emily Effect Foundation: Visit theemilyeffect.org
  • IntermountainMoms Youtube channel: The video topics include eating well, PPD, signs of emergencies, and more. Find the videos here: youtube.com/user/IntermountainMoms

If you feel like you want to harm yourself or your baby, call your healthcare provider or go to the emergency room. You can also reach out to a Select Health care manager at 800-442-5305. If you’re in a crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK.

Related: Give Your Baby a Healthy Start by Joining Our Healthy Beginnings Program

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