Archive | July 5, 2017

You’re Not Alone: The Truth About Postpartum Depression

You’ve seen the pictures on social media: happy new mothers holding their swaddled, sleeping newborn.

Exhausted, you looked in the mirror. You didn’t have enough energy to put on makeup and you still have no idea why your newborn won’t sleep.

You scrolled through a trove of pictures of smiling families with their babies and wondered, “What am I doing wrong? What am I missing?”

You felt alone.

According to Douglas M. Addy, MD, FACOG an OB/GYN at Sandhills Women’s Care, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, that misconception is a new mother’s first mistake. You’re not alone.

While commercials, social media and magazines may portray motherhood as a perfectly joyous time, Dr. Addy said many new moms experience depression after giving birth, something often referred to as the baby blues. And 10 percent of all women who give birth experience postpartum depression, a debilitating form of depression that can, in extreme cases, be life threatening to both a new mom and her children.

“Postpartum depression can get so bad that it’s difficult to care for yourself, much less your baby, or anyone else in your family,” Dr. Addy said. “It can be a psychiatric emergency that needs to be monitored closely to make sure you’re getting better.”

Despite the severity of this condition, many women with postpartum depression often go untreated because of the stigma associated with it.

Dr. Douglas Addy

“When you have a baby, you’re supposed to be so happy that the baby is there,” Dr. Addy said. “It’s really hard for people to come to grips with what happens to their moods, and they may feel as if they’re not bonding with their baby. These women consider their feelings a sign of weakness, but it isn’t.”

Diagnosing postpartum depression can be difficult because many new moms brush off the symptoms that include lack of sleep, no appetite and an overwhelming sense of sadness as something women experience as part of childbirth.

“Women with postpartum depression find themselves crying at everything,” Dr. Addy said. “Anything can trigger an emotional response, which makes normal activities impossible.”

While the medical community knows that hormonal changes after pregnancy lead to postpartum depression, which specific hormonal changes have not been identified.

There is help for women struggling with depression after childbirth. They only need to speak with their doctor. Currently, most pediatricians also screen new moms for postpartum depression.

If a medical professional feels you have depression, he or she may refer you to a counselor, prescribe an antidepressant, or refer you to a psychiatrist for treatment. Sometimes just having someone to talk to can help.

“While postpartum depression will eventually get better, it can take a long time and there’s no need for new moms to needlessly suffer,” Dr. Addy said.