The transition to motherhood brings with it many changes. This can be a very difficult time for many. Mothers are expected to be happy. Joyful. Ecstatic. Immediately ready to be a mother and care for their child. When a mother does not feel this way, it can be scary and confusing. According to Babycenter.com, 40 to 80 percent of new mothers will experience what is called the “baby blues.” This is when during the first few days after delivery, a mother feels tearful, unhappy, is worried, experiences self-doubt, and is fatigued. This can be explained by many different factors; hormones, adjustment, lack of sleep, lack of self-care, and others. The “baby blues” will typically go away within a few weeks. When these blues persist, increase in severity, lead to feelings of despair or hopelessness, significant behavioral changes, intense worry, feelings of inadequacy, and/or thoughts of harming oneself and/or the infant, it indicates that the mother may be experiencing Postpartum Depression. Less frequently, women will experience delusions or hallucinations that can be frightening, dangerous, and confusing.
Why does this happen for some mothers and not others? Postpartum Depression is actually quite common. However, it is something that not many talk about. Depression in general is highly stigmatized by society and societal expectations are for mothers to automatically love parenting and seamlessly make the adjustments to this new lifestyle. Research has found that Postpartum Depression can be linked to hormonal changes that occur after childbirth. Sudden changes in hormone levels can trigger depression in women who are more sensitive to shifts in hormones (Babycenter.com). Some women are more at-risk than others. Risk is increased by:
- Depression or Anxiety prior to or during pregnancy
- Stressful life events during pregnancy or after giving birth
- Traumatic birth experiences and/or the medical needs of the infant after birth
- Lack of social support
- Difficulty with breastfeeding
- Single parenting
- Domestic violence
There are multiple risk factors, but these are some of the more common noted factors that increase risk.
Postpartum Depression can lead to difficulty with bonding with the infant. Postpartum Depression can be isolating. It can be exhausting. It can be overwhelming. It can disrupt relationships. It can be confusing.
It can leave women feeling as if they are failing at motherhood. However, there are many different treatment options that are helpful and safe for alleviating Postpartum Depression symptoms and help moms get back to enjoying life.
Talk therapy is one approach that has been demonstrated to be effective for helping women with Postpartum Depression. The first goal is to let mothers know they are not alone and are supported. The second goal is to reduce symptoms. The third goal is to learn to identify and challenge destructive thought patterns. These approaches under the supervision of a well trained professional can help alleviate symptoms and provide mothers with hope for a mentally healthy future.