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Help is Available for New Moms Facing Baby Blues, Depression

There are very few  if any — more joyous moments in one's life than the birth of a child. But as most parents know, the days, weeks and months after that can be some of the most challenging times, as well. A mother's mental health is important to herself, her new child and her family. 

Kristin D'Orsi, DO, an OB/GYN with WomanHealthStudies have shown as many as 4 in 5 women will experience some sort of mood swings in the first few weeks after giving birth. If these moods are light and fade away, it's probably just the "baby blues." About 1 in 8 will experience post-partum depression, which may impact the lives of you and your family. 

Kristin D'Orsi, DO, an OB/GYN with WomanHealth in North Chelmsford and Westford, discusses the signs, risks and treatments of post-partum depression. 

What are the signs of post-partum depression? 

Post-partum depression usually occurs in the first year after delivery, but can occur during pregnancy as well. Some of the feelings a new mother might experience are anger, irritableness, or lack of interest in taking care of your baby or yourself. You may also experience a loss of appetite, different sleeping patterns, feeling sad or crying all the time, or common feelings of guilt or hopelessness. 

What causes post-partum depression? 

There is no one specific cause or one thing linked to it. A lot of it has to do with feeling overwhelmed afer delivery, as well as changes in your hormone levels. And then there are different stressors in your life — a new family member and everyone finding a new role in the family. We always tell patients  there is nothing they did to cause themselves to have this. 

Why is it important to get diagnosed? 

If it goes untreated, it can last months to even years. It can affect a mother's ability to connect with her baby, and could lead to long-term problems with the baby's eating, sleeping and behavior. It can create a lot of stress to the family. There is also a very rare form called post-partum psychosis, when a woman may become a threat to injure herself or someone else. 

How is it treated? 

Counseling can be helpful, and sometimes medication may be necessary. Self-care is also important — having help with the baby and taking time for yourself with exercise, relaxation or finding something that makes you happy. Medication may also be part of the treatment, and that is something women should talk to there provider about.

If you think you may be coping with post-partum depression, what should you do?

The first thing to do is reach out for help. Talk to a family member or your doctor. You're not alone, and there are plenty of ways to help you. And it's important to note, it might not always be a new mother. New dads or partners can also experience problems with post-partum depression.  

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