Symptoms and Causes of Postpartum Depression

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Postpartum depression takes many women by surprise. The excitement and joy of being a new mother may suddenly seem overshadowed by intense feelings of isolation and sadness that don’t seem to fit the circumstances. This in and of itself can exacerbate postpartum depression because many women feel confused, as if there is no real reason for them to feel sadness when they’ve just given birth to a child.

Sometimes referred to as the “post-baby blues,” postpartum depression can develop in the days following birth and remain for weeks following delivery. It’s important for new mothers to stay attuned to how they’re feeling during this time, as severe depression can often develop quickly. Others close to the new mother, such as a partner or family members, should also watch closely for signs of postpartum depression:

  • Anxiety and fear
  • Bouts of crying
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Intense feelings of sadness
  • Restlessness
  • Physical pain such as headaches, nausea, and joint pain

Causes of Postpartum Depression

It’s important to keep in mind that postpartum depression has a very real physiological cause. Understanding and talking about the changes that are taking place in a mother’s body after she gives birth can often help to demystify depression and mitigate feelings of sadness.
Postpartum depression causes include:

  • Hormonal changes – Nine months of pregnancy have caused a lot of hormonal changes in the body. After giving birth, your body knows that it’s time to readjust and a dramatic drop in hormone levels takes place, primarily estrogen and progesterone. These hormones stay low as you begin breastfeeding (hormones necessary for lactation suppress the production of other hormones) and will likely not start to reach normal, pre-pregnancy levels until your menstrual cycle begins again.
  • Emotional changes – If your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy and birth, your mind goes through even more. Especially for first-time mothers, emotions such as fear, nervousness, uncertainty, and doubt abound. These feelings are natural, but can become exacerbated in women with postpartum depression.

All too often, women don’t seek treatment for postpartum depression. Many believe they can simply “muddle through” the depression until their hormones readjust, or they feel guilty about experiencing depression. Some women feel that seeking medical attention is selfish because they believe the focus should be on the wellness of the new baby. Ignoring postpartum depression can have serious consequences – it is estimated that about 5 percent of women who experience depression after having a baby also have suicidal thoughts.

Treatment for Postpartum Depression in Dallas

Postpartum depression therapy is available at Texas Health and Counseling Group. Our goal is providing you with a safe, compassionate environment in which you can speak openly and honestly about the feelings you’re experiencing and the changes you’re going through. Our experienced team of counselors offers postpartum depression therapy in a group or individual setting. Take the first step toward fighting your postpartum depression by contacting Texas Health and Counseling Group in Arlington, Frisco, Hurst, McKinney, or Richardson.

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