Handling Postpartum Depression

The birth of a baby can trigger a jumble of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. But it can also result in something you might not expect — depression.

Most new moms experience postpartum “baby blues” after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery and may last for up to two weeks.

But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression. Rarely, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.

Postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms and help you bond with your baby.



Signs and symptoms:

which last only a few days to a week or two after your baby is born — may include:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Restlessness
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby


If you have a history of depression — especially postpartum depression — tell your doctor if you’re planning on becoming pregnant or as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.

During pregnancy:

your doctor can monitor you closely for signs and symptoms of depression. He or she may have you complete a depression-screening questionnaire during your pregnancy and after delivery. Sometimes mild depression can be managed with support groups, counselling or other therapies. In other cases, antidepressants may be recommended — even during pregnancy.

After your baby is born:

your doctor may recommend an early postpartum checkup to screen for signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. The earlier it’s detected, the earlier treatment can begin. If you have a history of postpartum depression, your doctor may recommend antidepressant treatment or psychotherapy immediately after delivery.


Self-help tips for Postnatal Depression

The best thing to do is to take care of yourself. It is important to find the little things that work to make you feel better, some of which may include self-help lifestyle changes and seeking support from others:

  • Develop a support plan while you are pregnant. Identify what steps you will take in a crisis and who you can call on for support.
  • Set aside quality time for yourself to relax and take a break from your baby. Do what makes you feel good and replenishes your self-belief.
  • Share what you are feeling with at least one other person. It can be a huge relief to tell someone and can help you make sense of everything.
  • Lean on your partner, family and friends. Their support will play a big part in your recovery. Let them know how you’d like to be supported.
  • Make your relationships a priority. Spending time with those you love increases your “feel good” brain chemicals.
  • Get proper sleep. Although this is difficult with a newborn, a good night’s sleep can do wonders for your mood and energy levels.
  • Make meals a priority. What you eat affects your mood. Keep blood sugars stable and ensure you are getting enough nutrients and vitamins.
  • Get out of the house as the fresh air will do you good. It can give you some perspective and time for your body and brain to have a breather.
  • Ease back into exercise as this is hugely effective in treating depression.