Having a baby is a wonderful, joyful experience. It can also be stressful, tiring and at times overwhelming. If you have feelings of sadness, irritability, crying jags, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety days after having a baby you are not alone. Many moms, anywhere from 20-80% experience “baby blues” (Goodman, S. H., & Brand, S. R. (2009). These feelings can come and go and usually disappear after two weeks. If these feelings are more persistent, lasting longer than two weeks, or get worse, it could be signs of postpartum depression.
Some moms, about 19% experience a more severe, long lasting form of depression in the first three months after having a baby (Goodman, S. H., & Brand, S. R. (2009). These symptoms are more intense than “baby blues,” and may interfere with care of the baby. A mother experiencing depression, as described by Mayo Clinic (2013), may have a loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, anger, feelings of guilt or inadequacy, severe mood swings, difficulty bonding with baby, withdrawal from family and friends, and thoughts of harming self or baby.
On rare occasions a mother may develop postpartum psychosis. This develops within the first few weeks after giving birth. Symptoms include confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, and attempts to harm self or baby (Mayo Clinic, 2013).
There are many causes or factors that influence the development of postpartum depression. According to the Mayo Clinic (2013)) a drop in hormones after giving birth can trigger depression. Also emotional factors can play a part such as lack of sleep, feeling overwhelmed, and feelings of anxiety about ability to care for baby. Other influences including having a demanding baby (a baby that cries for long periods, difficult to soothe, feeding difficulties, etc.) , financial problems, and isolation can contribute to depression. Additional risk factors include a history of depression, problems in relationship with spouse or significant other, and alcohol or drug abuse.
Left untreated postpartum can interfere with mother-child bonding (Attachment Blog). Children that have mothers that do not seek help for their depression may experience more behavior problems, temper tantrums, hyperactivity and possible learning delays. Postpartum depression can also have a ripple effect causing difficulties in other relationships. Depression in mother can also lead to an increase risk of the father becoming depressed (Mayo Clinic, 2013).
If the feelings or symptoms outlined above last longer than two weeks, get worse, make it hard to care for your baby or you have thoughts of harming self or others, seek help. Other options to help with feelings of sadness and depression are good self care including healthy eating, exercise, taking time to do things you enjoy, avoid isolation and be patient with yourself.
If you have questions or concerns about bonding with your child, depression or depressed like feelings, stress/frustration with a crying baby please call Karen Harvey at 918-699-0547.
The Parent Child Center of Tulsa, 918-599-7999.
COPES (if feeling like you want to harm self or child), 918-744-4800 – available 24 hours
Goodman, S. H., & Brand, S. R. (2009). Infants of Depressed Mothers: Vulnerabilities, Risk Factors, and Protective Factors for the Later Development of Psychopathology In C. H. Zeannah, Jr (Ed.), Handbook of Infant Mental Health, 3rd Edition (pp. 153-170). New York, NY; The Guilford Press.
Mayo Clinic. (2013). Postpartum Depression. Retrieved February 21, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/postpartum-depression/DS00546