Postpartum depression is estimated to affect between 10% and 15% of women after the birth of a child. While the birth of a child is often an exciting time of life, most women are familiar with the experience of the “baby blues.” The baby blues typically consist of crying, low mood, and difficulty with sleep. They are typically caused by the change in hormone levels and changes in lifestyle following the birth of a child. These feelings typically go away after a couple of weeks when your life goes ‘back to normal.’ However, for some women these feelings last several weeks, and can be considered postpartum depression.
Typical symptoms of postpartum depression include sadness, significant crying, mood swings, irritability, difficulty with sleep, or anxiety. It can also lead to difficulty bonding with your child. Some women with postpartum depression can feel that they are not a good mother. However, postpartum depression is not a weakness, and certainly does not mean that you don’t love your child. It is a known experience for several women following the birth of a child.
Fortunately, treatment is available and your therapist can help you in several ways. Therapy can help you talk about your anxieties about parenting and validate your feelings, including discussing how you feel about your baby in an open and safe way. Your therapist can help you recognize that most of your feelings are quite normal and understandable. You can work on improving ways to bond with your infant to promote secure attachment patterns. You and your therapist can work to identify your available support system. It can also help you address you emotional and parenting needs with your partner. You can also discuss if medications are appropriate, and receive a referral if desired.
The important thing is to recognize that you are not alone. Many people feel overwhelmed by the experience of raising an infant. Therapy is available to help you address your questions, concerns, and confusion over parenting and how it affects your life.
Katie Eschenbauch, MSW, provides the primary therapy for postpartum depression.