Pregnancy and childbirth create drastic hormonal changes in a woman’s body. Although she may be thrilled at the prospect of the latest family addition, the swings in hormone levels can lead to postpartum depression. Unlike the more common “baby blues,” PPD does not generally pass without intervention and treatment.
Women who have experienced a miscarriage or a still-birth are also at risk for PPD, the symptoms of which include daily sadness and general lack of interest in the world, including their own household and family. In the most severe instances, she may have fleeting thoughts of suicide or harming her children.
Sleep troubles, significant weight loss or gain, lethargy and guilt are also indicative of PPD. For these women and those around them, it can be very difficult to understand where the emotions are coming from.
Because it can worsen into postpartum psychosis, the doctor should be alerted as soon as the symptoms are noted. Often, the OB/GYN in charge of the mother’s care will prescribe an anti-depressant and monitor her emotional state closely until the problem is resolved.
There is no shame in PPD. If you or someone you care about may have this temporary condition, contact your doctor immediately for help.