What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression or PPD affects at least 10% of all new mothers.
- PPD can happen any time within the first year after you have the baby.
- PPD may be related to hormonal changes as well as changes a baby brings to family life.
How do I know if I have postpartum depression?
Symptoms are similar to those of baby blues, but last longer than 2 weeks and may also include:
- always feeling very tired
- feeling irritable or angry
- unable to sleep or wanting to sleep a lot
- thoughts or fears that do not make sense
- increase or decrease in appetite or weight
- feeling a loss of control
- feeling hopeless or not interested in daily activities
- feeling guilty
- anxiety or panic attacks
- difficulty making decisions
- over concern or no feeling for the baby
- thoughts of suicide
The same things that help for “baby blues” will help for postpartum depression. You will also need to seek more help:
- Once you understand what the problem might be, you might start to feel better.
- You can call your community health nurse to assist you. There is help for postpartum depression.
- Your next step is to see a doctor to be sure that you have no medical problem, such as thyroid problems, or anemia. Your doctor may recommend medication.
- There is medication that can be taken even when you are breastfeeding.
- Professional help from a counsellor/therapist can help recovery. You can also attend a support group. Talking out how you feel will help.
- Marital counselling may by helpful. PPD can add to underlying problems and friction between partners.
For Partners: How partners can help?
Learn about PPD and read about the symptoms. There are books available at the library. Booklets, pamphlets and book suggestions are available at your public health centre.
- Talk to your partner. She may not recognize the symptoms in herself.
- Encourage your partner to seek help through your community health nurse or family doctor. It is helpful if you go with her.
- PPD affects relationships. You might need to talk to friends, other family members, or professionals for help.
The following booklets are available at The Family Centre and your local Public Health Centre:
- Could You Have Postpartum Depression?
- Helping New Mothers Cope With Postpartum Depression
- Postpartum Survival Guide; Dunnewold, Ann & Sandford, Diane
- Mothering the New Mother; Placksin, Sally
- Postpartum Depression and Anxiety – A Self-Help Guide for Mothers; The Pacific Postpartum Support Society of Vancouver.
- This Isn’t What I Expected; Kleinman & Raskin
Reproduced with permission from the Capital Health Authority