If your symptoms go beyond the baby blues, you might have postpartum depression. Getting treatment is important for you and your baby.
- Step 1: Know your treatment options. Counseling, for you and your partner, is often as effective as medication for mild postpartum depression. Antidepressant medicine is another proven treatment, and hormone therapy, like estrogen replacement, may ease symptoms.
- TIP: Although all medications enter the breast milk, some antidepressants can be used during breast-feeding with little risk of side effects to your child.
- Step 2: Consider hiring part-time or full-time help if you have postpartum depression, and consider parent-coaching classes to strengthen the mother-and-child bond.
- FACT: Postpartum blues, or baby blues, occur in about 80 percent of women, while postpartum depression affects between 12 and 15 percent of women.
- Step 3: Have an advocate come with you to the appointment. They can write down information and provide moral support.
- TIP: Write down any questions you want to ask your doctor so you won't forget at your appointment.
- Step 4: Know that symptoms of postpartum depression may include baby blues symptoms, plus insomnia, loss of appetite, intense anger and irritability, overwhelming fatigue, difficulty bonding with the baby, and thoughts of harming yourself or the baby.
- Step 5: Consult a doctor if your symptoms last longer than 2 weeks, get worse, or make it hard for you to complete daily tasks or care for your baby. Getting treatment early can help speed your recovery.
- Step 6: Prepare for your appointment by writing down all of your symptoms and noting how long you've had them. Also mention whether you have been diagnosed with any health conditions in the past, such as depression. List any medications and vitamins or supplements you're taking.
- Step 7: Know the symptoms of the baby blues. They are similar to those of postpartum depression, but are far less severe and last only a few days. Symptoms include mood swings, crying, sadness, irritability, anxiety, decreased concentration, and trouble sleeping.