One of the most frightening things for a new mom is to experience postpartum depression. When left unchecked, postpartum depression can have disastrous consequences. Even if it isn’t terribly severe, it can rob you of some of the joy you ought to have with the new baby around. Postpartum depression can lead to feelings of guilt and anxiety, and can cause problems with your relationships with your partner, friends, family and even your new baby.
There are a number of risk factors for postpartum depression. Some of the most common include:
- A family or individual history of depression. If you’ve experienced depressive episodes in the past, you may be at a higher risk of experiencing postpartum depression. The same goes if you have a genetic predisposition to being depressed. If you have a family history of depression, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll have postpartum depression but it can increase the chances.
- The lack of sleep. Every parent of a newborn knows that sleep comes at a premium. Even if your baby is an ideal baby and is able to sleep through the night by about six weeks of age, the sleep that you lost at the end of your pregnancy and during those first few weeks after birth can cause problems. In fact, even for women who haven’t just had a baby, lack of sleep is a significant risk factor for depression.
- Youth. Young mothers tend to be at a higher risk for postpartum depression than moms who are a little bit older.
- Situation factors. Having a baby really creates an upheaval in your life. Usually, it’s a good kind of upheaval. However, the stress caused by these significant life changes can cause undue amounts of stress, which if left untreated become a risk factor for postpartum depression.
If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, get help. Start by talking to your doctor, therapist or counselor. Postpartum depression is very treatable, and when left unchecked it can cause serious problems for you and for your new baby.