By Dr. Michele Sinopoli, Reliant Medical Group Obstetrics and Gynecology
While many women experience mood changes around the birth of a child, approximately 15-20% suffer serious symptoms of depression or anxiety. Postpartum depression can affect women of every age, culture, race or income level. These symptoms can appear during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth. Men can also suffer depression and anxiety related to the birth of a child.
Although postpartum depression is quite common, it is also an underdiagnosed problem. That’s why it’s so important for men and women to undergo screening for this condition. Good treatment options are available, and those suffering from post-partum depression can go on to a full recovery.
Many people wonder what causes postpartum depression. In women, postpartum depression is thought to be related to changes in hormones that occur during and after pregnancy, as well as other factors. The symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Feelings of anger or irritability
- Lack of interest in the baby
- Appetite and sleep disturbance
- Sadness and crying
- Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in the things you used to enjoy
- Thoughts of harming the baby or yourself
Many of the same factors that can trigger postpartum depression in women, including exhaustion, a dramatic change in lifestyle, and increased demands on time, energy, and finances can also trigger problems in men. Some researchers believe that men also go through hormonal changes after they become a father. Men who are stressed or in poor health are more likely to have a greater risk of depression related to the birth of a child.
Anxiety is also a big problem with many women during pregnancy and after the birth of a child. While some anxiety during such a big life event is expected, anxiety alone or combined with depression can cause serious problems. Symptoms of anxiety include:
- Constant worrying
- Feeling that something bad is going to happen
- Racing thoughts in your mind
- Sleep and appetite disturbances
- Inability to relax and sit still
- Panic attacks that can include physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, chest pain, heart palpitations, nausea and numbness, and tingling in the extremities.
If you believe that you or your partner are suffering from postpartum depression or anxiety, it’s important to seek help. Effective treatments (including talk therapy and medications) are available and having a healthcare provider that understands your condition can make all the difference. Don’t let postpartum depression or anxiety come between the health of you and your child during this important time in your life.
Resources on postpartum depression:
About Michele Sinopoli, MD
When she first went to college, Dr. Michele Sinopoli studied bio-medical engineering. However, after a while she realized that being in a lab all day wasn’t what really interested her. “I had a summer job as a bio-medical engineer at a local hospital,” she explains. “One day an obstetrician asked me if I wanted to see a delivery. Once I witnessed the miracle of birth and saw the joy the parents experienced, I knew that was the field...View profile View posts by this doctor