Postpartum Depression

Depression in pregnancy and postpartum

Having a baby can bring on a number of emotions that may range from happiness and enjoyment to anxiety, sadness, and depression. It is common for some new moms to experience the baby blues after having a baby. The symptoms may include crying, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and sleep problems. If the symptoms persist and affect varies areas of your daily life seeking assistance from a psychologist can be beneficial both to you and your baby.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Am I feeling less enjoyment in my life?
  • Am I viewing myself, others, and the world in a negative light?
  • Is my mood impacting my ability to engage in daily activities?
  • Am I having a hard time bonding with my baby?
  • Have family or friends voiced concerns with my mood and behavior?

Diagnosing Postpartum Depression

Most lay individuals refer to depression resulting after having a baby as postpartum depression or the baby blues. According to the DSM-5 (the diagnostic manual utilized by mental health professionals to diagnose and treat mental health issues), postpartum depression is classified as Major Depressive Disorder with peripartum onset. The specifier defines depression occurring during pregnancy as well as four weeks after delivering a baby.

Symptoms

Depression related to pregnancy or after having a baby include the following symptoms:

  • depressed mood
  • crying spells
  • sadness
  • isolating from others
  • low energy
  • decreased motivation
  • decreased interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • decreased sex drive
  • irritability
  • eating more or less
  • sleeping more or less
  • feelings of worthlessness
  • excessive guilt
  • recurrent thoughts of death
  • thoughts of harming your baby

Treatment

If symptoms continue for several weeks to months a psychologist can provide treatment for depression.Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)for depression is the treatment of choice and highly effective in treating depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help the person examine behaviors impacting their mood and change them. Also, the person will learn to identify unhelpful thoughts that are negatively impacting mood and behaviors. After, the person will learn to challenge and change the unhelpful thoughts to more accurate and realistic thoughts. Also, a psychologist can aid in problem solving around stressors and ways to improve life. For example, problem solving around ways to increasing social supports (finding family, friends, or hiring others to help with chores) and self care (eating, sleeping, relaxation skills, engaging in pleasurable activities) are areas that may be beneficial to discuss.

Further help

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above symptoms, feel free and call Dr. Watson at 404-954-2713 to set up a phone consultation.