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Postpartum Depression: What You Should Know

For most parents, the birth of a new child is one of the most exciting times in their lives. However, it can also be one of the biggest life changes one can experience, which leaves room for complex emotions to follow. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately one in eight women in the United States shows signs of postpartum depression after giving birth. Postpartum depression can be mild or severe, so it’s important to recognize the symptoms and know how to manage them. Here’s an overview of some things you should know:

What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression is a mental health condition that can occur after the birth of a baby. Though all pregnant women are at risk for postpartum depression, certain factors can increase the likelihood of a diagnosis. A new mother may be more likely to develop postpartum depression if she already has a depression diagnosis, experiences medical complications during birth, or other life events like job loss or death of a loved one.

What are some warning signs that someone may be experiencing postpartum depression?

It’s important to remember that everyone is different, and that symptoms don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. Oftentimes, new moms experience one or more of the following:

  • Feelings of extreme guilt or shame
  • Significant mood shifts
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Avoidance of spending time with the baby
  • In extreme circumstances, thoughts of hurting themselves or the baby

These symptoms are heightened and last longer than the typical “baby blues” that many women experience after birth.

What advice would be beneficial for new moms with postpartum depression?

Emily Brault, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Centerstone, tells new moms it’s okay not to be okay. “Having postpartum depression doesn’t make you a bad parent,” Brault says. “Nor does it mean there is anything wrong with you. Lean on your support system and don’t be afraid to ask for help. They want to see you and the baby thrive.” The support system may look different than it once did prior to pregnancy, and that’s okay too. While we are biologically wired for connection, it isn’t selfish to pour back into your own cup while caring for a new life, too.

What can I do to support someone who is experiencing postpartum depression?

Promoting a safe and understanding environment is the best way to support someone. Offer a listening ear and validate her thoughts and feelings as she does her best to navigate them. Reassure her that she is a great parent, even if she may not feel like it now.

How is postpartum depression treated?

Postpartum depression doesn’t typically go away on its own, but is fully treatable through mental health counseling, medication, or sometimes a combination of both. Antidepressant medications are commonly used to treat postpartum depression. In addition, cognitive-behavioral therapy can help new mothers identify and change inaccurate perceptions of themselves and the world around them, while interpersonal therapy focuses on how one interacts with family and friends.

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health concerns, Centerstone can help. Call us at 877-HOPE123 (877-467-3123) or visit our counseling services page.

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