Giving birth and becoming a mother is a transformative experience. New motherhood represents a time of tremendous adjustment. With changes in priorities, responsibilities, and relationships as well as sleep, self-image and social support, many women experience emotions they never anticipated. You may be one of them.
What is postpartum depression?
Many mothers have been told what a wonderful experience motherhood will be and instead find themselves sad, overwhelmed, tired, even resentful of their newborn or partner. These thoughts and feelings may lead new mothers to feel guilt and to question their abilities. Pregnancy, delivery, sleep deprivation, and the around the clock demands of caring for a newborn – all of these factors put a huge strain on women’s nervous and hormonal systems.
Up to 85% of women experience a range of mood and anxiety symptoms in the first weeks following the birth of their baby, while 10-25% of women (millions each year) develop worsening symptoms that do not resolve with sleep and support.
Though it is called Postpartum Depression, the actual symptoms include mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks, and obsessive or intrusive thoughts. Women frequently find that they are feeling down and having crying spells. They may feel inadequate, withdraw from family and friends, feel guilty, and experience changes in sleep and appetite. These symptoms can appear during pregnancy, right after delivery, or anytime within the first year. Anyone can be affected.
Depression is a biological illness, not something a mother can “snap out of.” Untreated depression and anxiety can interfere with your ability to bond with your baby and enjoy parenting. It can also lead to negative long-term consequences for you and your child. For these reasons, it must be treated.
How is it treated?
Treatment for postpartum mood and anxiety symptoms ideally involves an integrated approach including medical and non-medical interventions. Underlying biological causes should be ruled out. Counseling can also help, not only by offering support, but also by teaching people to recognize and change disturbing thoughts, to manage feelings of anxiety and panic, to practice positive coping skills, and to build self –esteem. Furthermore, massage, yoga, meditation, and acupuncture can be helpful. Sometimes medications are recommended. Deciding whether or not to take medications is personal decision. With the help of a trained medical professional you can discuss and weigh the risks and benefits of available treatment options and get assistance in accessing them.
At Swedish, we give you both the support and the information you need in order to make informed choices – choices that are right for you and your family.
It’s not your fault. Depression is treatable. You are not alone.
How is it diagnosed?
If you think you might be suffering from postpartum depression, complete this quiz and share the results with your health care provider.
Want more information?
Attend the free BabyMap event "Health Parents, Happy Baby" where a Swedish specialist will discuss "Emotional Health and Well-being." Click here to register and see additional topics for new parents that will be discussed.
For general information on postpartum depression and mood disorders, click here.
Catherine Davies, MD completed her internship in obstetrics and gynecology at University of California, Irvine and went on to train in psychiatry at the University of Washington. Dr. Davies specialized in women’s mental health with a focus on pregnancy and postpartum. She completed medical school at Jefferson Medical College.
Veronika Zantop, MD completed a residency in family medicine and psychiatry at the University of Washington and specializes in women’s mental health, including treating women with anxiety, mood, and psychotic symptoms in pregnancy and the postpartum. Dr. Zantop is a diplomate of both the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She went to medical school at the University of California at San Francisco.
Swedish offers a wide-range of treatment options at the First Hill, Cherry Hill and Ballard campuses. To make an appointment with Dr. Veronika Zantop or Dr. Catherine Davies, please call 206-320-7288.