What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is a serious disorder where the hormonal changes following childbirth combined with psychological stresses, such as sleep deprivation, can incapacitate a new mother. About 12 to 15 percent of new mothers experience some form of postpartum depression.

PPD Symptoms include:

  • Low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy as a parent
  • Inability to enjoy the baby or take pleasure in other activities
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Irritability, problems concentrating
  • Excessive crying
  • Fatigue, decrease in energy
  • Persistent physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic muscle pain.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your physician immediately and request a complete psychological exam. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health).

Are You at Risk for PPD?

Postpartum depression is not a mood women can just snap out of. Within the first 24 hours postpartum, a woman’s level of estrogen, which is important for mood regulation, drops 90 percent. Since the brain contains many estrogen receptors, that drop can impair mood regulation.

Those at highest risk for postpartum depression are women who:

• had stressful pregnancies, such as those who have been ordered on bed rest;
• have a family history of mental illness, especially a mother who has had postpartum depression
• have a history of depression.

Read more about Understanding and Overcoming Maternal Depression.