Postpartum Blues (Postpartum Depression)

Mother nursing baby

What is Postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression (PPD or peripartum depression), also known as the “baby blues,” may occur any time between one week and a month after a person gives birth. Some common symptoms of PPD include depressed mood, loss of interest, problems sleeping, fatigue, irritability, and weight gain. 

Nothing to be ashamed of: One in ten new mothers suffer from postpartum depression. 

What Causes PPD? 

While the exact cause of PPD is unclear, it is believed to be a combination of physical, emotional, genetic, and social factors, in addition to sleep deprivation and stress. 

Hormones: Within a few hours of giving birth, the hormones estrogen and progesterone return to their pre-pregnancy levels. This drop in hormone levels (like smaller changes in hormones which affect mood before a menstrual cycle) is one of the causes of PPD. Thyroid hormone levels can also decrease after birth and lead to symptoms of depression. 

Genetics: Depression is not a simple illness, but we do know a predisposition for PPD can be passed down from your mother. There is also a correlation between postpartum depression and people who suffer from severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Emotional Factors: Adjusting to life with a new baby can also contribute to PPD, as parents juggle caring for the baby in addition to home, work, and family responsibilities. New parents may also question their ability to be a good parent or grow overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for their new infant. 

Social Challenges: New parents may struggle to feel connected with their partner and family. Caring for the new baby takes time and energy, leaving little of both to spend with the rest of their family. The new identity of “parent” can also contribute as priorities, schedules, and lifestyle are replaced by baby’s needs, making it hard to maintain a strong sense of self. 

Symptoms of PPD may include:

Extreme Sadness Low Energy Anxiety
Crying Episodes Irritability Loss of Interest
Fatigue Weight Gain or Loss Changes in Sleeping or Eating Patterns

For many, the “baby blues” will go away as hormone levels return to normal. But for some, the depression associated with a new baby does not go away and can worsen. Do not hesitate to share symptoms of and concerns about PPD with your doctor.

Get Support

In case of emergency, always call 911.

Perinatal Support of WA

Call/Text Peer Support Line (se habla español) 1-888-404-7763

Postpartum Support International

Call: 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD) #1 en español or #2 English

Text in English: 1-800-944-4773 

Text en español: 1-971-203-7773

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Available 24/7

Call/Llamar: 1-800-273-8255 (se habla español)

Deaf & Hard of Hearing access via TTY: 1-800-799-4889

Crisis Text Line: Text HELLO to 741741

You are not alone

If you experience any kind of depression after child birth, it is important to talk to your doctor right away. Your provider will likely recommend a combination of medication and counseling.

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