What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is more than just the “baby blues”. The baby blues tend to go away naturally within a couple of weeks, and may involve symptoms such as crying for no reason, anxiety, irritability or restlessness. No treatment is required for the baby blues.
Postpartum depression (starting after birth) or peripartum depression (starting during pregnancy) feels more intense and lasts longer. It poses risks for the mother and the baby, and treatment is recommended. Symptoms can include things like feeling sad, down, or depressed, or not finding pleasure in things you normally would, crying for “no reason”, feeling indifferent, annoyed or anxious about the baby, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, trouble concentrating or feeling confused, feeling like a bad mother, feeling of hopelessness, or having thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby. Postpartum depression can make it hard for you to take care of yourself and your newborn baby. You may not desire to connect with the baby, or be resentful of its needs, and then feel guilty that you feel this way.
Pregnancy, labour, and being a new mom can be difficult physically and emotionally. Your body changes, your hormones are intense, you have physical pain. Plus you now have sleep deprivation, societal and internal pressure to be a “good mom”, and the desire or complications associated with breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Then there’s the impact of the pregnancy on family dynamics, such as remembering things from your own childhood, being disappointed by lack of help, or coping with existing children reacting negatively to the new baby (sibling rivalry). Being a mom is hard work, and it can feel very lonely when no one seems to understand what you’re going through. You may feel ashamed or embarrassed about the difficulties you are experiencing, which can be compounded by well-meaning advice to “enjoy every minute of it”.
How can therapy help with Postpartum Depression?
Therapy can help you to get back on your feet. You can bring your baby to the appointments if you want to. You can bottle or breastfeed in session as needed. Therapy is a place for you to feel safe and supported. You can vent about things that annoy you, get new perspectives, share your worries and ask questions, learn new coping strategies, and have a space to discover how to take care of yourself and your family in a way that feels right to you.