Everyone feels sad occasionally, but for many women, the time after having a baby, known as the postpartum period, doesn’t feel as joyful as expected. Postpartum depression is a form of depression that emerges due to the shifting hormones and mental and emotional changes that come after having a baby.
These “baby blues” include the exhaustion, worry and sadness many women feel after delivery. While some symptoms resolve within a few days or weeks, persistent feelings of woe, sadness, hopelessness or helplessness can indicate postpartum depression.
The good news is that there’s hope for you, and help is available from a trained counselor or licensed therapist on the other end of one of these hotline numbers.
Signs of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression (PPD) symptoms are similar to clinical depression and can also include:
- Crying more often than usual
- Withdrawing from friends and loved ones
- Feeling anger
- Feeling numb or disconnected from your baby or
- Worrying that you might not be a good mother
- Worrying that you might accidentally hurt your baby
How intense your symptoms are can vary, and not every woman experiences the same PPD symptoms or to the same degree.
How to Help Someone With Postpartum Depression
Helping someone with PPD can be tricky for many concerned friends and family members. Your postpartum loved one may feel ashamed or guilty for feeling depressed after having a baby, since this is supposed to be a happy occasion.
Women who worry about being a good mother or fear they’ll harm their baby somehow may be especially scared to say anything. Offering your support with understanding and a nonjudgmental approach can help your friend feel more at ease and willing to seek treatment.
Why Some People Experience Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression can make you feel isolated and alone, but this condition is more prevalent than you may realize. A recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that about 1 in 10 women experience postpartum depression to some degree.
PPD isn’t your fault. If you experience PPD during pregnancy, you have a higher risk of developing it in a subsequent pregnancy. Women with depression or an anxiety disorder may also have a higher risk of developing postpartum depression.
What Are the Treatments for Postpartum Depression?
Although there’s no substitute for professional treatment, here’s what to do for postpartum depression so you can begin feeling better while you’re working through therapy:
- Sleep while your baby is sleeping, and try to get as much rest as you can.
- Ask for help; don’t try to do everything by yourself.
- Carve out time to spend alone with your partner or to visit friends without your baby.
- Talk with other mothers to learn from their lived experience.
- Talk to someone you trust about your feelings of isolation or depression.
- Join a new mothers support group.
Ending isolation can help new moms with PPD understand that they have a treatable mental health condition and aren’t bad mothers. We also encourage you to talk to a doctor about getting help for PPD. Some of the most common forms of treatment include:
- Individual therapy with a psychologist or therapist. They provide a safe space to work through your feelings and offer personalized strategies to address how PPD makes you feel, think and behave.
- Medication. Your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant to help lessen the symptoms of depression so you can focus more on therapy. If you’re breastfeeding, ask your doctor for medications that can be taken while you’re nursing.
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Some severe cases of postpartum depression may be treated with this type of therapy, but it’s important to understand the process and potential risks.
Resources for People With Postpartum Depression
Note: If you or someone you know is feeling strong urges to harm themselves or their baby, especially if they’re experiencing postpartum depression, get help immediately.
Mental Health Hotline is a free, 24-hour service intended to provide support and resources for those seeking help, connecting them with appropriate care in their area. Call (866) 903-3787 today.
SAMHSA National Helpline: SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) offers a free 24-hour service in English and Spanish for substance abuse-related disorders or general mental health needs. Text 435748, call 1-800-662-4357 or TTY 1-800-487-4889.
Crisis Text Line: Text and Online Chat: The Crisis Text Line is a volunteer-based service that provides 24/7 free support. You can chat online at crisistextline.org or text 741741.
NAMI Helpline: NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) manages a volunteer helpline with trained counselors offering support for all mental illness topics. Text 62640 or call 1-800-950-6264.
Do You Need Help With Postpartum Depression?
If you or someone close to you is struggling and you’re wondering how to help with PPD, a counselor from one of the hotlines here can help. You simply call one of the free numbers and you’ll be connected with a trained counselor and given a safe, confidential space to share your experience. Your mental health, and the well-being of your new baby, are important. We’re here for you.