The weeks and months following the birth of a baby are supposed to be happy ones. The new mother, though sleep-deprived, is supposed to glow, and be thrilled to spend time with her new baby. But unfortunately, many new moms are ashamed to find themselves sad, resentful, and depressed.
The cause is a form of depression that affects some moms, and it is called postpartum depression. It leaves these moms feeling inadequate and unloving, but it has nothing to do with what kind of mother they are. Postpartum depression also has nothing to do with how good of a baby the mom has, but it is a serious condition that can negatively affect both the mother and child if left untreated.
Postpartum depression affects 10% to 20% of mothers of newborns. It is caused by hormones in the body that are released after the mother gives birth. Doctors don’t really know why some women are so severely affected by it, but some women have mild symptoms, some have severe symptoms, and some don’t experience this depression at all. We do know that a woman that has had postpartum depression with previous babies is more likely to develop it again.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
A mother with postpartum depression may feel like they have a case of the “baby blues”. They will feel sad, lonely, and unable to adequately care for their baby. While all women are somewhat overwhelmed with the task of taking care of a newborn, and all are lacking in sleep, women with postpartum depression feel overwhelmingly tired and run down.
The Silent Disease
The hard thing with postpartum depression is that it comes at a time when a woman is expected to be happy. This disease has been kept hidden for years, and many mothers have suffered in silence because they were too ashamed to say anything. Some mothers try to handle it on their own, or turn to drug or alcohol abuse to self-medicate. We’ve probably all heard the stories of horrific acts of new mothers that suffered from severe postpartum depression and didn’t get help.
But, thankfully, this disease is becoming more well-known and women like Gwyneth Paltrow and Marie Osmond have helped give a face to it. There is hope for those with postpartum depression. Medication is very effective and is usually needed for a few months until the body begins to regulate itself again.
The important thing is not to hide from this disease. It is a true medical condition that may cause severe depression among some people. Seek the help of a professional for the best recovery. Husbands and loved ones should be watching out for the new mothers in their life and encourage them to get help if they need it.