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Home Health Postpartum Depression - Symptoms and Treatment

Postpartum Depression – Symptoms and Treatment

The “baby blues” is due to the mother’s changes in hormone levels and from being exhausted trying to take care of her new born baby.

Usually the baby blues goes away within two weeks after the birth. A much more serious type of depression that at a lot of mothers get after the baby is born is called is Postpartum Depression, also called Post Natal or PPD.

This is a clinical depression that usually develops within four weeks after birth but may take longer; some cases have taken up to a year to appear.

Postpartum depression is a major health issue in the United States for new mothers. For those mothers who have previously had postpartum depression rate goes up drastically.  Some studies have shown that where one lives may affect the likelihood of having postpartum depression.

A mother experiencing postpartum depression may have little or no energy, may have trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, feel anxious, be sad, have low sex drive, crying episodes and irritability.

At times the depression becomes so bad that the mother may experience psychotic episodes putting herself and her child at danger. There have been incidences where mothers have killed their babies and/or themselves during these psychotic episodes caused by PPD.

Interestingly some recent studies have shown that about 50% of mothers actually started experiencing depression and other symptoms of PP prior to the birth of their baby.

If a mother continues to be depressed after the first four weeks after birth then they need to seek help. This is a mental illness and needs to be treated.

Failure to do so will also affect your child in that the necessary bond that the mother makes with the baby initially does not occur, or occurs so late that, are profound effects on the development of the child.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Hopelessness
  • Emptiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Feeling Overwhelmed
  • Guilt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sadness
  • Guilt
  • Low energy
  • Decreased libido
  • Inconsolable bouts of crying

Although the causes of postpartum depression are not well understood there is evidence to suggest that changes in hormone levels may have something to do with it.

Some of the hormones studied were progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, thyroid and corticotrophin releasing hormone.

Some males, despite they have not huge hormonal changes have been known to experience postpartum depression too.

Some of the risk factors associated with postpartum depression are low levels of support. This may include lack of family and friends as well as difficulty obtaining medical resources.

Other factors that affect it are those living in an abusive relationship or in poverty.  Women who experience a lot of stress during their pregnancy are also more likely to have PPD.

Things such as losing a loved one during pregnancy, birth trauma, and ill babies are all examples of stress that may increase the likelihood that a mom may get this.

There is also evidence that supports breast feeding as a way to reduce your risks.  The third category that will predispose women to PPD are genetic factors.


It is important for mothers who have PPD to get treatment so that they can get well as soon as possible and return to the care of their child. Currently there are three major forms of treatment.

Hormone Therapy –

Although the research on using hormones to treat postpartum depression is scarce, there is some evidence to show that giving women estrogen to replace the rapid loss of this upon birth is helpful.

Counseling –

Seeing a psychologist or a psychiatrist to talk about better ways of handling things and how to set more realistic goals has proven to be real helpful for many mothers experiencing this.

Antidepressants –

Antidepressants have been shown to be effective in treating postpartum depression.  You just need to make sure that the one you are taking does not get into your breast milk; there are antidepressants that will not get into your milk. Just make sure you talk to your physician to make sure you get one.

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