About 2–3 days after childbirth, some women begin to feel depressed, anxious, and upset. They may feel angry with the new baby, their partners, or their other children. They also may cry for no clear reason, have trouble sleeping, eating, and making choices and question whether they can handle caring for a baby. These feelings, often called the postpartum blues, may come and go in the first few days after childbirth.The postpartum blues usually get better within a few days or 1–2 weeks without any treatment. Women with postpartum depression have intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, or despair that prevent them from being able to do their daily tasks. Postpartum depression can occur up to 1 year after having a baby, but it most commonly starts about 1–3 weeks after childbirth.
Postpartum depression probably is caused by a combination of factors. These factors include the following: Changes in hormone levels—Levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease sharply in the hours after childbirth. These changes may trigger depression in the same way that smaller changes in hormone levels trigger mood swings and tension before menstrual periods. A history of depression is also a risk factor. Women who have had depression at any time—before, during, or after pregnancy—or who currently are being treated for depression have an increased risk of developing postpartum depression. Emotional factors include feelings of doubt about pregnancy are common. If the pregnancy is not planned or is not wanted, this can affect the way a woman feels about her pregnancy and her unborn baby. Even when a pregnancy is planned, it can take a long time to adjust to the idea of having a new baby. Parents of babies who are sick or who need to stay in the hospital may feel sad, angry, or guilty. These emotions can affect a woman’s self-esteem and how she deals with stress. Fatigue may also play a role. Many women feel very tired after giving birth. It can take weeks for a woman to regain her normal strength and energy. For women who have had their babies by cesarean birth, it may take even longer.
If you think you may have postpartum depression, or if your partner or family members are concerned that you do, it is important to see your health care provider as soon as possible. Do not wait until your postpartum checkup. Postpartum depression can be treated with medications was well as talk therapy. Dr. Max Izbicki Chicago Il OB/GYN cares for women with a wide range of pregnancy complications including post partum depression and may offer both of these options if you are diagnosed with this condition. If you have a history of depression at any time in your life or if you are taking an
antidepressant, tell your doctor early in your prenatal care. He or she may suggest that you begin treatment right after you give birth to prevent postpartum depression.