Things that may contribute to postpartum depression include: prior history of major depression or family history, lack of social or emotional support, a difficult labor and birth, premature birth or baby born with defects, prenatal depression, hormonal changes, unplanned pregnancy, low thyroid levels, marital or relationship problems, low self-esteem, baby behavior (sleep trouble, breastfeeding difficulties, colic, etc.), being a single mother, financial problems and stressful events (such as a recent move or loss of a loved one).
Postpartum depression affects both mother and baby. One of the most troubling consequences of postpartum depression is the side effects it has on a new mother’s ability to care for her baby. Mothers often feel helpless or inadequate, withdrawing from their responsibilities. In addition, babies are highly sensitive to a mother’s sadness, silence, and inattentiveness. In the long run, child development and emotional growth may be affected by postpartum depression, leading to possible behavior problems (including hyperactivity). This is especially true if postpartum depression lasts for a long time or goes untreated.
It’s very important that women suffering from postpartum depression reach out for the proper help as soon as possible. You may find it comforting to talk with your doctor or midwife if you are having trouble coping after the birth of your baby. While postpartum depression is a serious condition, if you receive proper medical attention, it can be treated fairly easily with anti-depressant medications, counseling and support groups. Without proper treatment, your depression may get even worse and last much longer. Regular exercise, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, getting out of the house, socializing with friends, getting plenty of rest and getting assistance with housework and meals are all helpful way to cope better.