29 Dec Why am I not happy? Postpartum Depression can strike when you least expect it
Between 10-15% of new mothers experience postpartum depression. Postpartum Depression is a serious disorder that robs women and their families of the joys and elation that often come with a new baby. These women, and often their family and friends may ask themselves: Why am I (is she) not happy like I’m (she’s) supposed to be? What’s wrong with me (her)? Why can’t I (she) feel joy? After all, I (she) has a beautiful, healthy baby.
The truth is, that Postpartum Depression is, indeed, counter-intuitive. After all, most of us want to have children, have planned to have them and have dreamt of raising a family. Becoming a mother is often the dream and hope of adult women. How come, then, that so many women develp depression following childbirth? There are many explanations of this phenomenon but currently researchers and clinicians alike agree that a combination of biological, psychological and social factors play an important role in postpartum depression. An example of a biological component may be that brain chemistry is different in women who have postpartum depression than in women who do not have postpartum depression (as can be shown in brain imaging tests). We also know that women who have members of their immediate family who have had mental health problems are at a higher risk than women who do not have any family members with mental health problems. A psychological component for example may be a tendency to be a perfectionist or have a high need for control, and a social factor may be feelingl isolated, being a single mom or struggling with finances (these are just examples and there can exist any combination of challenges to put a woman at a high risk for postpartum depression).
What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?
Feeling down, hopeless, depressed or simply miserable
Feeling like you have lost interest in things you used to be interested in or have pleasure from before
Feeling lack of joy or happiness about the baby or life in general
Having uncontrollable crying spells
Being anxious or afraid of being alone with the baby
Significant changes is appetite and/or weight compared to your normal self
sleep problems above and beyond disruptions caused by the baby
Aches and pains
Difficulty focusing, thinking, making decisions
Avoiding or minimizing socializing
Having thoughts about harming yourself and/or your baby
If you have 3-5 symptoms that last more than just a few days, most of the day, you need to see a physician or a psychologist. If you have thoughts about harming yourself and/or your baby, please urgently seek help!
The good news about Postpartum Depression: There is great help out there and you can recover from it and be your normal self again. Different types of psychotherapy, such as Cognitive-Behavioral-Therapy, Interpersonal Psychotherapy and Marital Therapy have all been shown to be highly effective in treating Postpartum Depression. Anti-depressants, such as Prozac can also help. See a Registered Psychologist who can diagnose you and tailor the best therapy to you and your needs. Don’t go on another day suffering; You deserve to feel better and you can!