Approximately two weeks after a woman gives birth to a new baby, she can sometimes experience feelings of deep sadness and despair. These feelings can keep her from functioning normally and performing important daily tasks for weeks to months after delivery. Some of the major symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Lack of interest or pleasure in life’s daily activities
- Lack of appetite
- No desire to engage in social situations
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep and restlessness
- Lack of energy and motivation
- Rapid mood swings or episodes of crying for no apparent reason
- Difficulty making decisions and poor concentration
While the exact causes of postpartum depression are unclear, some scientists believe that the symptoms may be the result of hormonal changes in a woman’s brain that occur during and after delivery of the new baby. Levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen decrease very dramatically immediately after the baby is born, which may result in mood swings similar to those that occur before menstrual periods. Thyroid hormones can also decrease sharply at the same time, which also have effects on mood, energy level, and sleeping patterns. Overall, postpartum depression appears to be the result of a combination of many factors, from genetic makeup to lifestyle choices.
A woman may be more at risk for developing this condition if she:
- Has a family member suffering from depression or a personal history with depression, anxiety, or postpartum depression
- Has a history of severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Lacks a good support system or has a strained relationship with her partner
If you are at an increased risk for developing postpartum depression, speak with your doctor about what you can do to help prevent this condition from affecting your life. To find a compassionate and experienced medical specialist in the West Hills, CA area, contact the staff of West Hills Hospital & Medical Center at (818) 676-4000.