Postpartum Depression: How Common Is It?

Postpartum depression is a complex mix of physical, emotional and behavioral changes that can occur during pregnancy and up to a year after delivery. It is often attributed to the chemical, social and psychological changes associated with having a baby.

Women who experience postpartum depression have a greater risk of developing major depression later in life. As many as 50-75% of new mothers experience the “baby blues” after childbirth. Baby blues is a feeling of sadness or moodiness typically lasting two weeks postpartum. Among these women, 15% will develop a more severe and longer-lasting depression, called postpartum depression.

Considering the new responsibilities, sleep deprivation and lack of time to care for oneself, postpartum baby blues and depression are understandably common.

Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression

Unlike the baby blues, postpartum depression is more serious. Red flags for postpartum depression include:

  • Difficulty bonding with your new baby
  • Feeling disconnected or withdrawing from your partner
  • Insomnia related to anxiety
  • Overwhelming feelings of guilt or worthlessness

Coping with postpartum depression

Here are a few tips for coping with feelings of postpartum depression:

  • Exercise when you can
    Exercise helps release feel-good endorphins. It’s a fast and easy way to give your mood a boost.
  • Maintain a healthy diet
    Feeding yourself may not be top-of-mind every day, but it’s important to fuel your body with lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. If you don’t have time to feed yourself, ask for a helping hand.
  • Create time for yourself
    Though this may sound impossible with a newborn, it is essential for maintaining a sense of self. Let a loved one snuggle with your newborn while you take a break and do something you enjoy… or rest.
  • Make time to rest
    This is perhaps the most challenging coping mechanism, but also one of the most important. Ask your partner or trusted loved one to take over for a while so you can get some uninterrupted sleep.
  • Add in Omega-3s
    Fish oil has high levels of DHA, something your body needs to help combat the effects of postpartum depression.
  • Be social
    Whether you’re talking to friends on the phone or in person, it’s important to stay connected and share your feelings with others. That alone can help lift your mood.

If you’d like to learn more about postpartum depression or need postpartum support for your emotional, mental or physical health, please call Bay Area Physicians at 251-301-1145.