Postpartum Depression: Tips for New Mothers

Dr. Kecia Gaither

About 15% of mothers develop postpartum depression, a more intense and longer lasting condition than the baby blues which generally sets in weeks after giving birth and may last months.

Bringing a child into the world is one of life’s most joyful experiences. But when the balloons and the friends and the family are gone, more than half of new mothers are surprised to find themselves sad, anxious, and tearful. These symptoms of the “baby blues” usually appear a few days after giving birth and disappear within a few days or a week. But about 15% of mothers develop postpartum depression, a more intense and longer lasting condition than the baby blues which generally sets in weeks after giving birth and may last months. Postpartum depression is characterized by overwhelming feelings of despair, hopelessness, and inability to cope that make it difficult for a new mother to care for herself or her baby. “Postpartum depression is temporary and treatable,” says obstetrician-gynecologist and maternal care specialist Dr. Kecia Gaither. “New mothers and their families should be aware of the risk factors and alert to the symptoms and they must seek help right away.”    

It has long been thought that postpartum depression is caused by the hormonal fluctuations that accompany pregnancy and childbirth. The dramatic drop in estrogen levels that occurs in the days following birth does trigger elevation of an enzyme that has been associated with mood changes and is almost certainly associated with the short-lived baby blues. But it has not been conclusively determined that hormonal fluctuations are responsible for postpartum depression, which may not appear until weeks or even months after giving birth….

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