Identifying, treating postpartum depression

American Profile

You’ve just had a baby. Life should be more beautiful than ever, but for some reason, it isn’t.

If you have postpartum depression, you’re not alone. The National Institute of Mental Health reports as many as 13 percent of new mothers have depression-related symptoms.

Since mental health issues are typically underreported or unnoticed, that number is probably higher. Inform yourself about depression, and take charge of your health.

Postpartum depression: It is normal to experience mood swings and mild feelings of sadness, anxiety or irritability. The baby blues usually dissipate in short order, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. But if the baby blues do not go away in a few days or weeks, or the feelings are extreme, postpartum depression may be the culprit.

Symptoms: Feelings of failure or inadequacy; concern and worry about the baby; a lack of interest in the baby; fear of harming the baby; suicidal thoughts; fatigue; insomnia; loss of appetite or overeating; withdrawal from friends and family; lack of pleasure in once enjoyable activities.

Causes: Postpartum depression is not wholly understood. The emotional changes that occur after the baby is born may be related to a variety of issues, according to the Mayo Clinic. There might even be a genetic component that leads to a susceptibility to depression in general.