Postpartum Depression – Symptoms & Risk Factors

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a severe mental health issue that affects some women after giving birth. It is more than just the “baby blues” or feeling sad for a few days. It is a persistent and severe mood disorder that interferes with daily functioning and well-being.

Postpartum depression can affect anyone, regardless of age, culture, or background. It can also affect the mother’s relationship with her baby, partner, and family. Here, we will discuss the symptoms and risk factors of postpartum depression and how to seek help if you or someone you know is suffering from it.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression can cause various symptoms. These can affect your mood, behavior, and physical health. These symptoms may start soon after giving birth or develop gradually over time. They may last weeks, months, or even longer if left untreated. Some of the common symptoms of postpartum depression are:

1. Persistent Sadness

This symptom can affect your mood and outlook on life. You may feel hopeless about the future or empty of any positive emotions. You may cry a lot, even without a clear reason, or have difficulty feeling joy or happiness in any situation. Besides you may also have suicidal thoughts. At that time, you require immediate medical attention.

2. Loss of Interest or Pleasure

Sometimes, you may lose interest in activities that you used to enjoy, such as hobbies and socializing. You may also feel detached from your baby and have trouble bonding with them. Along with this, you may not feel affection or love for your baby or feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for them. Even you may have negative thoughts or feelings about your baby.

3. Fatigue

This symptom can affect your energy and productivity levels. You may feel tired, exhausted, or drained all the time. Even after getting enough sleep, you may feel this. You may have trouble getting out of bed, taking care of yourself, or doing daily tasks. Besides, you may lack the stamina or endurance to cope with the demands of motherhood.

4. Changes in Sleep Patterns

In postpartum depression, you can face difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up. You may sleep too much or too little, depending on your mood and stress levels. Sometimes, you may have nightmares or disturbing thoughts that keep you awake or make you afraid to sleep.

5. Appetite Changes

This symptom can affect your nutrition and health. You might overeat or undereat, depending on your state of mind and stress level. Additionally, you may also have cravings or aversions to certain foods, such as sweets, carbs, or spicy foods. In postpartum depression, you can experience weight loss or gain or digestive problems.

6. Irritability or Agitation

Your behaviors and mood may be impacted by postpartum depression. You might feel angry, frustrated, or restless quickly. Even you may snap at your partner, family, friends, or baby or have verbal or physical outbursts. Besides, you will always face trouble relaxing or calming down or feel tense or nervous. You may have mood swings, too.

7. Difficulty Concentrating

This symptom may impair your mental and cognitive functions. You might require assistance with concentration, memory, or decision-making. You might even experience disarray, forgetfulness, or confusion. Along with this, you can face difficulty completing tasks, following instructions, or solving problems.

8. Feelings of Worthlessness or Guilt

This symptom of postpartum depression can affect your confidence and self-esteem. You will feel like a bad mother, partner, or person. Then, you blame yourself for everything that goes wrong or feel guilty for having negative thoughts or feelings. You may have inflated expectations of yourself.

9. Withdrawal from Family and Friends

Postpartum depression can affect your emotional and social support. You may start to feel isolated from others or avoid social contact or support. It will also feel lonely, misunderstood, or rejected. You don’t want to talk to anyone or share your feelings or problems. Besides, you can face difficulty asking for or accepting help or feeling like a burden to others.

10. Physical Symptoms

You can see some changes in your physical health and well-being for postpartum depression. It might cause you headaches, backaches, muscle pain, or other bodily discomforts. You can also experience panic attacks, chest pain, palpitations, or shortness of breath. These are the signs of anxiety or stress. Besides, you will have low immunity in this situation.

Risk Factors for Postpartum Depression

Any woman who has given birth can experience postpartum depression, regardless of her age, culture, or background. However, because of a few risk factors, some women are more vulnerable than others to having postpartum depression.

These risk factors can be personal, environmental, or biological, and they can increase the vulnerability or stress of a woman during or after pregnancy. Some of the common risk factors for postpartum depression are.

1. Personal or Family History

If you have had depression or anxiety before, during, or after a previous pregnancy, you are more likely to have postpartum depression again. The same is true if you have a family history of mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

2. Stressful Life Events

Suppose you’re going through stressful situations like financial difficulties, domestic violence, or the loss of a loved one. There is a high possibility of postpartum depression. This stress can influence your mood, coping skills, and resilience, making you feel overwhelmed or hopeless.

3. Lack of Social Support

You will experience postpartum depression when you feel lonely, isolated, or unsupported by your partner, family, friends, or community. It’s very common. Social support can provide emotional, practical, and informational help and make you feel cared for and valued.

4. Hormonal Changes

Another risk factor is hormonal imbalances or fluctuations during or after pregnancy. For this, you will face postpartum depression. Hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, thyroid, and cortisol can affect mood, energy, appetite, and sleep. Hormonal changes can also trigger other medical conditions.

5. Childcare Stress

Postpartum depression is susceptible to strike if you experience problems feeding, sleeping, crying, or other health issues with your infant. Childcare stress can make you feel exhausted, frustrated, or incompetent and affect your bond with your baby.

6. History of Trauma

If you have a history of trauma, such as abuse, neglect, or sexual assault, you can experience postpartum depression. Here, the possibility is higher. Trauma can create your mental health struggles, self-esteem, and trust and make you more vulnerable to stress or triggers. Besides, trauma can affect your pregnancy, delivery, or postpartum experience.

7. Unplanned or Unwanted Pregnancy

Postpartum depression is a greater possibility to arrive if you do not want to have children or if you do not want children. Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy can cause mixed or negative emotions, such as shock, anger, guilt, or regret. This can also affect your relationship with your partner or baby.

8. Medical Complications

If you or your baby have medical complications during or after pregnancy, such as preterm birth, low birth weight, congenital disabilities, or infections, you may face postpartum depression. Medical complications can cause worry, fear, grief, or disappointment and affect your recovery or bonding.

In these types of risk factors, a hopeless mother needs support from family, partner, and society to overcome this situation. If postpartum depression gets severe, you should get proper treatment from professionals.

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Emily Pham

Infant Teacher

My name is Emily and I am an infant teacher. My aim with this position is to learn how children develop as unique individuals and learn how to support their holistic growth. I am currently a student at San Francisco
State University majoring in Child and Adolescent Development. With this experience, I am hoping to get a sense on whether I want to continue to work in the classroom or if I want to learn the administrative side of education. The experience of working directly with children is gratifying and I wish to create a safe space for children to explore with all of their senses as they develop their own personalities. I hope to be able to help build a strong foundation so that the children can have the confidence and ability to express themselves.