Bringing a new baby into the family can be challenging at the best of times, both physically and emotionally. It is natural for new parents to experience mood swings, feeling joyful one minute and depressed the next. These feelings are sometimes known as the “baby blues,” and often go away soon after birth. However, some parents may experience a deep and ongoing depression that lasts much longer. This is called postpartum depression.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is depression that may start during pregnancy or at any time up to a year after the birth of a child.
Depression is a mental illness that affects a person’s mood—the way a person feels. Mood impacts the way people think about themselves, relate to others, and interact with the world around them. This is more than a ‘bad day’ or ‘feeling blue.’ Without supports and treatment, depression can last for a long time.
Signs of depression include feeling sad, worthless, hopeless, guilty, or anxious a lot of the time. Some feel irritable or angry. People lose interest in things they used to enjoy and may withdraw from others. Depression can make it hard to focus on tasks and remember information. It can be hard to concentrate, learn new things, or make decisions. Depression can change the way people eat and sleep, and many people experience physical health problems.
A mother or father with postpartum depression may not enjoy the baby and have frequent thoughts that they’re a bad parent. They may also have scary thoughts around harming themselves or their baby. Although it’s rare for a parent to make plans to act on these thoughts, this situation is serious and requires urgent medical care. If you believe that a loved one is in danger, don’t hesitate to call 911 or your local crisis line.
The Early Start Parent Information Line is available 24/7 for all new parents with babies less than 2 months of age. Call 403.244.8351 to reach a nurse who can offer support and provide you with information.
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