How to Recognize Postpartum Depression

Not only have members of the Wichita Moms Blog Team experienced Postpartum depression, but we have shared several posts that have resonated with hundreds of moms who have experienced the same:

This post is brought to you by The Hummingbird Study, a research study for women experiencing postpartum depression.

Postpartum Depression

Bringing home a new baby is one of the most highly anticipated moments in the life of a family. For the majority of new moms, this is the beginning of the joy they have been waiting for! However, for some new moms, that time of happiness can suddenly turn into a time of being overwhelmed, anxious, or sad – perhaps even feeling isolated from their baby and others. Unfortunately, for these new mothers, the delivery of their newborn baby can be followed by the unexpected biological complication called postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression is different from “baby blues,” a condition which usually resolves within a couple of weeks. In contrast, postpartum depression is a serious disorder in women mostly likely triggered by fluctuations in hormones.  Although the cause of postpartum depression is not fully understood, we do know that during the course of the mother’s pregnancy the levels of certain reproductive hormones like progesterone increase during the 3rd trimester and then rapidly fall after delivery. These sudden shifts in hormones may contribute to the onset of postpartum depression. Studies show that to 15-20% of women experience varying degrees of postpartum depression following childbirth. Often their symptoms start as early as the 3rd trimester.

The symptoms of postpartum depression are very similar to those of clinical depression seen in the general population. However, women with postpartum depression can experience a more sudden onset of symptoms (due to the sudden change in hormone levels) compared to other forms of depression where the symptoms may start gradually and worsen over time.

Although postpartum depression can resolve spontaneously or without any treatment, the lack of effective intervention can have a significant impact on both the mother and her baby. While some new mothers may only exhibit mild symptoms and for brief period of time, others women may suffer from severe symptoms for weeks or months. Unfortunately, these severe cases of postpartum depression can lead to hospitalization, or even worse, thoughts of harming herself or her newborn.

The timing of postpartum depression symptoms can have a long-term significant impact as it often occurs during the critical time of mother-infant bonding.  For this reason alone, it is important for family members and friends to recognize the symptoms so that treatment options can be evaluated quickly.

The good news is the risk of postpartum depression is relatively low and can be successfully treated. However, the key to success, as with any medical condition, is early recognition. Since postpartum depression symptoms can occur soon after deliver it is important that women notify their physician as soon as possible and not wait for their regularly scheduled post-delivery follow-up visits.

Symptoms of postpartum depression may include:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Feeling anxious, agitation or sense of restlessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, including interest or pleasure in her newborn baby
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Trouble bonding with her baby
  • Thoughts of harming herself or her baby

For more information about a current study in women suffering from postpartum depression being conducted here in Wichita, KS, please visit The Humming Bird Study.  Readers can also learn more about the study by contacting the Cypress Medical Research Center at (316) 425-6333 or visiting Postpartum Depression.

Postpartum Depression

**This blog post was written to serve as informational guidance about Postpartum depression and should not be taken as concrete medical advice. As with any medical questions or concerns, it’s imperative to make an appointment with your physician for proper counseling.**


David Grainger, MD, MPH

Dr. Grainger is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and has been extensively involved in pharmacological and medical device research since 1990, serving as Principal Investigator in studies for treatment of Postpartum Depression Endometriosis, Vaginal Atrophy (VVA), Uterine Fibroids, Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, Abnormal Uterine Bleeding, and Infertility.  Dr. Grainger is currently Chair- Dept of Ob/Gyn at University of Kansas School of Medicine- Wichita.

 

Jeffrey Davis, MD 

Dr. Davis Founder of Prairie Health and Wellness Clinic, Wichita, KS is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and has been actively involved in clinical research since 2011, serving as Principal Investigator on research studies for treatment of Postpartum Depression, Binge Eating Disorder, Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

 

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