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Healthy You

Beyond the Baby Blues: Recognizing Postpartum Depression

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 10:26 AM

Baby has arrived – and sometimes with that arrival come feelings of anxiety, mood swings and depression. For many new moms, the baby blues (occasionally feeling down during the first few weeks after birth) are common and not a cause for concern. However, some women suffer from more prolonged, severe depressive symptoms.

It’s important to remember that having a baby in itself can be an emotional journey, and feeling down once the baby is born is not something that should cause embarrassment. In fact, one in eight women is affected by postpartum depression after birth and may require treatment.  For some women, these difficulties can begin during pregnancy.

If you’re a new or expectant mom struggling with depression or anxiety it’s important to know that you are not alone, you are not to blame, and with help, you can feel better.  Psychotherapy, medication, support groups, and diet and exercise modifications are some of the options that are effective in treating depression during pregnancy or postpartum.

Jo Kim, Ph.D., of the NorthShore Perinatal Depression Program, recommends new moms be aware of the following symptoms that may signal postpartum depression:

  • Loss of interest and enjoyment in social activities and interactions
  • Lack of energy
  • Extreme exhaustion and fatigue
  • Change in mood – extreme irritability, sadness, anxiety or guilt
  • Lack or loss of interest in your baby
  • Inability to concentrate and make decisions
  • Thoughts that you’re not good enough, you’re a bad mother or that the baby would be better off without you
  • Feeling hopeless, like things are never going to get better
  • Suicidal thoughts

What tips did you use for staying positive and healthy after your baby was born? What adjustments in your lifestyle were the hardest to make?

NorthShore offers a free, 24-hour crisis hotline at 866.364.MOMS (6667). This confidential line is staffed by licensed mental health professionals.