Feelings of depression are not unusual for new parents, and this can have an impact on parents’ and babies’ health. With proper treatment and self-care, it’s absolutely possible to alleviate some of the symptoms of depression.
Depression is more common than you might think
According to the World Health Organization, depression is the most common mental health problem that women experience. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that about one in every eight women will experience depression at some point in their life. So if you’re wondering how many people out there struggle with the condition, know that it’s something many women experience.
Many women find being a new parent emotionally difficult
Many moments of having a little one are as joyous and easy as diaper commercials make them out to be. There are plenty of beautiful and fun moments, but being a new parent is hard, and can also be intense and bring about difficult feelings.
Depression can arise postpartum for many reasons, including changing hormone levels, shifting relationship dynamics, lack of sleep, and new or unknown expectations. For women with a history of depression, being a new parent can heighten anxiety over the recurrence of depression further down the road.
Getting treated can help you be a happier and healthier parent
When you consider the word “postpartum,” you might naturally think about the time immediately after a baby’s birth. While the clinical definition of postpartum depression defines it as occurring closer to birth, you might be surprised to find that many authorities consider depression that develops any time within the first year after delivery to be a form of postpartum depression.
It’s important to try to manage emotions in the most effective way possible. Although it may be difficult to find the time as a new parent, it may be helpful to make time to exercise regularly, or take time for yourself, or see friends more often, or maybe even see a therapist or take a prescribed medication. When you’re healthy, you can be a more active participant in your baby’s life and make more positive memories during this time.
Treatment for depression varies between women, and it takes a little trial and error
Treatment for depression can have such a positive impact on the early parenting experience. Seeking treatment for the condition as early as you can is one of the best ways to take control of your health and your experience. The first step in getting treatment is talking to your healthcare provider, who can then assess your mental health and help come up with a treatment plan.
Depending on your history with depression, your provider may prescribe therapy, medication, or both. It will probably take some time for you to figure out what works best for you, but there are a range of different types of treatments and medications available – most of which are safe during breastfeeding, if that’s something that’s a consideration for your family. The most important thing is that you recognize that you may be struggling with depression and that you speak to your provider about what’s been going on. From there, the two of you can work together on a treatment plan that helps you start feeling like your best self.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Antidepressants: Safe during pregnancy?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Feb 3 2015. Web.
- Alice D. Domar. “Depression and Infertility: Treatment Considerations.” Resolve. Resolve: The National Infertility Association, 2017. Web.
- “Trying to conceive, pregnancy, and mental health.” Womenshealth.gov. Office on Women’s Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, Feb 12 2016. Web.
- “Depression in Women.” Mentalhealthamerica.net. Mental Health America, 2016. Web.
- Yael I. Nillni, et al. “Depression, anxiety, and psychotropic medication use and fecundability.” AJOG. 215(4)453.e1-453.e8. Web. Oct 2016.