Those Baby Blues

More than half of all new moms experience the “baby blues,” mood swings and feelings of depression that probably result from the dramatic shift in hormones after childbirth.

For most moms, the blues go away without treatment in seven to 10 days. But a smaller number (10 to 15 percent) of women develop a more serious condition called postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can occur any time from a month to a year after childbirth, causing women to feel restless, anxious, sad or depressed. They may have feelings of guilt, decreased energy and motivation and a sense of worthlessness. They may also have sleep difficulties and undergo unexplained weight loss or gain.

In extreme cases – fewer than one percent – new mothers can develop postpartum psychosis, a dangerous condition in which they may refuse to eat, or exhibit frantic energy, sleep disturbances, paranoia and irrational thoughts. Some women worry that they may hurt the baby or themselves. Women with postpartum psychosis usually need hospitalization.

Moms aren’t the only ones who suffer. A study of more than 5,000 U.S. couples who recently had babies showed that 14 percent of mothers and 10 percent of fathers were found to have significant depression.

New parents with depression need treatment, not only for themselves, but also for the sake of their babies.

Babies thrive with lots of interaction like talking, singing and cuddling from parents. In some cases, depression may affect a parent’s capacity to take good care of a baby. If you think that you are suffering from postpartum depression, talk to your doctor – for your sake and for your baby’s.