Postpartum depression is the type of thing that every woman has heard of, but many don’t expect it to happen to them, and even more are unsure of how to go about dealing with the condition once they find out they have it. In truth, postpartum depression is an incredibly common state of affairs.

Somewhere between ten and twenty-five percent of women wind up struggling with it once they give birth to their first child, and the chances of developing this condition increase in women with a personal or family history of depression. Although it can seem overwhelming when you find that it’s happening to you or someone you love, it’s important to realize that there are many things you can do to deal with it, help minimize the effects, and even lower the likelihood of it occurring in the first place.

Understanding the Difference Between “Baby Blues” and Postpartum Depression

Pretty much every woman will experience some degree of what’s commonly known as “baby blues” after giving birth. This is especially the case for first time mothers, but it can actually happen to any woman. Giving birth is incredibly difficult, as is transitioning to a new state of affairs when it comes to your family. Plus, there are the hormonal issues to consider for the new mom: she will definitely feel anxious, irritable, and even completely overwhelmed at times, and that’s perfectly normal.

Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that “baby blues” typically only last about a week. Once the mother transitions and her hormone levels stabilize, she will gradually feel much better, but women who sink into postpartum depression will experience increasingly longer bouts of sadness and hopelessness. If your baby blues don’t seem to be improving on their own, and if they seem to be worsening, you should speak to your doctor about possible treatment options.

Lowering the Likelihood of Developing Postpartum Depression

Although postpartum depression isn’t the sort of thing that is avoidable altogether because of the hormonal factors involved in pregnancy recovery, it’s important to understand that taking care of yourself and giving yourself a little room to breathe and adjust can really help a lot.

To begin with, make sure you learn as much as possible about how to make a smooth recovery after giving birth. Ask your doctor for advice, and maybe even pick the brains of your friends for suggestions on how to cope. Get plenty of rest, and allow yourself to heal. Be sure to let your partner and your family help you out during this delicate time in your life so that you have plenty of time to bond with your baby and take care of your body.

Don’t force yourself to do too much too soon—like seeing visitors or jumping right back into maintaining your social life. Definitely don’t psych yourself into believing that you’re a bad mother if you find you’re dealing with postpartum depression. You’re not! Being overwhelmed and needing time to adjust is something every woman goes through to some degree.

Speak to Your Doctor About Your Options

If you think you might be dealing with postpartum depression, it’s important to not just tough it out. Schedule a visit with your doctor to talk about what’s going on and explore your options. He or she may suggest dietary or routine changes that can help you get on top of things, or you may also be prescribed a course of anti-depressants to help you get over the hump. Whatever the right solution may be for you, it definitely pays off to ask for help sooner rather than later.

Featured photo credit:  Young mother looking out from the window with her baby via Shutterstock

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