Symptoms and Treatment for Postpartum Depression

Bringing a child into the world can be one of life’s most beautiful and yet most challenging experiences at the same time. While most parents are overwhelmed with joy when they finally get to meet their new addition to the family, the sleepless nights, the increased financial costs, the added responsibility of parenthood, the loss of time for yourself, and the mere change of pace or alterations in your lifestyle can also take a toll.

Feeling stressed and exhausted when a new baby enters the family is almost expected.  In fact, a larger percentage of both women and men experience the ‘baby blues’ – something that is normal and that typically resolves within a few weeks. If it does not, however, and you or your partner are showing some more serious symptoms, you may be one of the roughly 10 – 20 percent of women and 10 percent of men who suffer from postpartum depression – a mood disorder that should not be dismissed or ignored.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

If you find yourself feeling moody, anxious, agitated and exhausted, you may be experiencing the ‘baby blues’; however, if you have developed some of the following symptoms, you may have clinical postpartum depression.

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, shame or guilt
  • Troubles bonding with your newborn or withdrawal from your partner, family or friends
  • Excessive crying or intense anger
  • Feelings of worthlessness or thoughts that you are not a good parent
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, to concentrate or to make decisions
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you previously enjoyed
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or of harming your baby

Who is Affected?

Although it is more common in mothers, fathers may also experience postpartum depression. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, postpartum depression is caused by several combined factors including biology, personality, family history, and the surrounding environment. Even parents who have adopted a new baby can experience postpartum depression.

Treating Postpartum Depression

First and foremost, it is important to recognize that having a child is difficult and that you are doing your very best, and, with the right care and treatment, you can recover from all types of depression (including postpartum)and focus on your baby and your family.

There are two primary types of treatment for postpartum depression:

  1. Medication – Visit your family doctor if you are concerned about your wellbeing. It is possible for new mothers to take certain anti-depressants while breastfeeding, but you should always consult your doctor to discuss the treatment plan that’s right for you.
  2. Counselling – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a common technique used to treat mothers and fathers suffering from postpartum depression. CBT focuses on helping you to recognize and change unrealistic or unhealthy thoughts and teaches behavioural strategies to improve your mood such as problem solving skills, stress management and relaxation techniques.

At Your Counselling Ltd, our therapists specialize in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and other effective counselling techniques that help treat postpartum depression for parents in Calgary and area. If you are ready to take the first step towards a happy, healthy life with your new family, contact us today for a free consultation and we will discuss a treatment plan that works for you.

To delve further into the topic of depression click over to our very thorough blog titled Depression: Everything You Need To Know