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Signs of Postpartum Depression and How to Cope



Center for Disease Control (CDC) research (https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/) indicates that 1 in 9 women will experience a depressive episode during pregnancy and or after giving birth.  In the United States, PPD occurs across different cultures and varying economic circumstances. 

While preparing for and having a new baby is one of the most joyous events you will ever experience, being a new parent can also be one of the most challenging transitions you might encounter.  Knowing the signs and symptoms of PPD can alert you to getting the help you need as soon as possible. 

What are the symptoms of PPD?

  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

  • Crying Spells.

  • Trouble with sleep- too much or too little. 

  • Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy.

  • Change in appetite- too much or too little.

  • Difficulty concentrating.

  • Irritability or anger.

  • Isolation or withdrawal from friends and loved ones.

  • Feeling a sense of numbness or difficulty connecting to your baby.

  • Worrying that you will hurt the baby.

  • Feelings of guilt about not being a good enough mom or having doubts about yourabilities to care for your baby.

What are the risk factors?

  • Stress. 

  • Lack of social support.

  • Difficulty getting pregnant in the first place.

  • Being a mom to multiples, like twins, or triplets.

  • History of losing a baby.

  • Being a teenage mom.

  • Preterm (before 37 weeks) labor and delivery.

  • Having a baby with a birth defect or disability.

  • Traumatic child birth experience

  • Previous history of depression

  • Breastfeeding trouble.

  • Having a baby or infant who has been hospitalized.

Treatment

Therapy

PPD is quite common and is nothing to be ashamed of.  The good news is that PPD is very treatable.  Of course, the earlier the better but the first step you can take once you recognize some of the signs, is to reach out for support.  Contact your healthcare provider and ask for a referral to a licensed psychotherapist.  If you don’t have an HMO and have a PPO, do a search for a licensed psychotherapist on a therapist directory such as https://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms. 

Develop a social network

Once you’ve reached out to your healthcare provider or a local psychotherapist, join a local support group for new mom related activities and reach out to friends and family.  Talk to a good friend and share your feelings with your partner.  Asking for help can be challenging when feelings of shame and guilt and feelings of inadequacy are involved but it truly takes a village.  While being a new mom is filled with so much joy it can also be stressful and taxing transition.  So reach out!

Self-Care

Develop a self-care plan.  Take people’s offers for help even if that means washing your dishes, bringing over food or watching the baby for a short time while you shower or run a few errands.  Eat as well as you can and get as much rest as you can and don’t feel guilty about doing so.  Once, you start therapy you will feel better about listening to and taking care of your own needs. 

Set good boundaries

If you are having people over to visit with the baby they should not expect for you to host.  The first months should be spent focusing on bonding with your new baby and getting as much rest as possible not running around prepping to host family and friends. 

For additional information and resources visit http://www.postpartum.net

If you have questions or are interested in setting up a complimentary consultation, Helen Caldwell, LCSW can be reached at (562) 888-1856 or by email at info@helencaldwell.org.  To learn more about her practice visit www.helencaldwell.org



About Helen Caldwell, LCSW

Helen Caldwell is a licensed clinical social worker with a holistic psychotherapy private practice in Long Beach, CA. Her areas of expertise include Anxiety, Depression, and Relationship Issues.  She has been in practice since 2001.  When not at work, Helen enjoys spending time with her husband and toddler on camping adventures and other outdoor activities. 

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