For every woman, having a baby is a challenging time, both physically and emotionally. It is natural for many new mothers to have mood swings after delivery, feeling joyful one minute and depressed the next. These feelings are sometimes called the “baby blues”, and often go away within 10 days of delivery. However, some women may experience a deep and ongoing depression which lasts much longer. This has been in the past and still today called postpartum depression. With in this term of Postpartum Depression there are different diagnosis and treatments. Below is not an extensive list by any means, nor are we giving any Medical advice. I you think some of the information applies to you or someone you know, maybe it is time to make an appoint meant with your Family Doctor.
Rather than give an exact text book definition of what postpartum depression is, let's talk about the subject in it's entirety. First off, postpartum depression is not really the correct term. Postpartum depression is one type of Perinatal Mood Disorder that individuals can suffer from in the postpartum period. Others include: postpartum anxiety/panic, postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and in extreme cases postpartum psychosis. We can define Perinatal Mood Disorders (PMD) as mood changes that can occur during pregnancy and/or following the birth of a baby; they can be anywhere from mild to severe in nature.
Symptoms vary greatly and can seem to come out of nowhere. All of a sudden a woman may feel unlike herself: she may have trouble getting out of bed and performing normal daily tasks; her appetite, sleep habits and/or weight may change; she may experience feelings of sadness, depression, hopelessness, worthlessness, agitation, anxiety and panic; she may have obsessive or intrusive thoughts and experience abrupt changes in mood and energy level. Sometimes Moms find they feel quite irritable, have difficulty concentrating, making decisions and even suffer confusion at times. Other things are affected as well such as libido. New fears may come into play such as: fear of being left alone, fear of impending disaster or dread, fear of hurting oneself or the baby. A common reaction is for a Mom to experience either a lack of interest in the baby or extreme over-protectiveness of the infant. She may have a lack of interest in activities she normally enjoys, a powerful desire to run away, or feel that her life is spinning out of control.
One of the biggest issues with postpartum mood disorders is recognizing them. Not only are they difficult for professionals to diagnose but they are even more difficult for Moms to recognize. For this reason, Women who are expecting and are aware of PPD sometimes worry they might unknowingly develop it. Everyone is susceptible to postpartum mood disorders but some face a higher than average risk of developing one if:
-there is a family history of mood disorders or more specifically postpartum mood disorders
-the individual has experienced depression or other mood disorders in the past
-there is a history of hormonal problems (with PMS for example)
-the individual is a first time mother and/or is quite young
-the baby was delivered prematurely and/or by cesarean or if there were any other complications during the pregnancy and/or delivery
-the new Mom has multiples
-the individual experienced fertility problems prior to conceiving
-the new Mom and her partner are having relationship problems
-the new Mom is experiencing financial stress
-the new Mom is not used to spending a lot of time at home or ends up spending a lot of time alone
-there is a lack of family support or community
If you are a new Mom or Dad and are feeling unlike yourself or displaying any of the symptoms listed above it is a good idea to talk to someone. Talk to your spouse, a friend or a relative but most importantly book an appointment with your family doctor. Even more importantly, remember you are the expert on yourself, if you don't get the help you think you need from one professional or resource, get a second opinion or try something else. Often postpartum depression requires more than one kind of help and time, don't think that one doctor appointment or prescription will solve the problem.
There are several private and public organizations that can help with this in Alberta.
Contact Health Link Alberta
Anyone in Alberta with a health question or concern can call:
Toll-free: 1-866-408-5465 (LINK)
Edmonton: 780-408-5465 (LINK)
Calgary: 403-943-5465 (LINK)
Your local Modern Mama representative will have information on individual clinics and practitioners that might be a better fit than the public system.