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The joys of motherhood are never fully experienced until all the children are in bed.
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Are You at Risk for Postpartum Depression?

Are You at Risk for Postpartum Depression?

Most of us look forward to the arrival of a new baby as a joyous event, but is also a time of tremendous upheaval and change. Many new mothers will feel sensitive, anxious, and overwhelmed after delivery, but with most women, these feelings improve within in the first few weeks. With about 13 percent of new mothers, however, these symptoms can linger and deepen into a moderate or severe depression.

The exact causes of postpartum depression are not known, but several factors may affect your mood when you give birth. First, there are the changes in your body. The hormone increases during pregnancy and then decreases after delivery may contribute, but there are other non-hormonal, more circumstantial factors that may also be significant. Some of these include:

  • Changes in the shape of your body from pregnancy and delivery
  • Changes in your work life and your interactions with your friends and family
  • Less time, less freedom and lack of sleep
  • Worry about your ability to be a good parent

There are a variety of factors that may put you at greater risk for postpartum depression. These include:

  • if you have personal or family history of depression outside of pregnancy
  • if you are under age 20
  • if you currently abuse alcohol or drugs
  • if you smoke
  • if you have a poor relationship with your significant other or are single
  • if you have little support from family, friends, or your spouse or partner
  • if you have financial problems

Symptoms for postpartum depression include anxiety, irritableness, and restlessness that does not go away within a few weeks after delivery. There is no single test to diagnose depression. Your AOA physician will diagnose based on the symptoms you describe.

Postpartum depression is highly treatable. It may include medication or therapy, or both. Whether or not you are breast-feeding will play a role in what medicine your doctor recommends.

If left untreated, postpartum depression can last for months or even years. Don’t hide your feelings; talk with your AOA doctor and reach out to the people around you for help. Make time to take care of yourself. Get as much rest as possible. Don’t try to do too much or expect to be perfect. Talk with other mothers, or find a support/play group.

Learn more about postpartum depression: