I've just had a baby a three weeks ago and I am feeling really depressed.  Even though the baby is healthy and I have lots of help, I am still not excited about this whole process and I am really down.  My recovery has been difficult and I don't feel like doing anything.  How do I know if I’m suffering from post partum depression and what do I do about it?


Mood swings after having a baby are normal.  Feeling depressed, having difficulty bonding and being happy about the baby are also normal, especially if you've had a difficult delivery or surgery.  Hormones are raging during the days and weeks after delivery....even more so than they were during the pregnancy.  Feelings of depression, restlessness and moodiness after giving birth are commonly referred to as the "Baby Blues".  This situation is, fortunately, short term.  As your hormones begin to stablize, you will feel more like your old self and you will enjoy the joys of being a new mother. 

If, however, your symptoms worsen or last longer than a month, you should consult with your doctor.  Symptoms such as prolonged depression or mood swings, feeling guilty about thoughts you are having, being restless, having trouble sleeping, gaining or losing weight suddenly, having crying spells, losing interest in life, and having thoughts about hurting your baby or yourself would indicate that you have post partum depression that needs attention.  You may be more succeptible to post partum depression if you have had depression prior to the pregnancy, have a stressful situation in your life, such as financial stress, new or unstable marriage, or severe PMS, or if there is a family history of depression or other mental illnesses in the family.  

So, try to take an honest look at your current state of mind.  Are you simply exhausted?  Or, do you think it's the "Baby Blues"?  If either of these are the case, you should consider being patient, talking with a loved one and taking care of yourself by sleeping well, eating right and resting as much as possible.  If, however, you believe that your condition is more severe, take action now.  Here are some things you can do to help yourself:

*Eat right, rest and sleep.
*Talk to your doctor and/or a counselor to share the feelings you are having.
*Accept help from family members or friends for housework and babysitting.
*Acknowledge your feelings without guilt.  Write your feelings down in a journal so you can reflect on them later.
*Try to set a goal to accomplish just one task each day.
*Do something that you enjoy.... even if it's just for 15 minutes a day.
*Be realistic.  It's easy to set your goals too high.  You don't have to be supermom.
*Research Post Partum Depression on the internet.  There are a number of quality resources that you can tap into to educate yourself.  
*Consider joining a support group of other new mothers in person or online.

So, it's up to you to evaluate where you are on this spectrum.  If you have any doubts, contact your doctor.  If you have any violent or aggressive feelings at all, make sure that your baby is safe and contact your doctor immediately. 

Author's Bio: 

Stacey Brown is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in individual, couples and family psychotherapy, and maintains a private practice in Fort Myers, Florida.

With more than 15 years of experience as a clinician, and a graduate of the University of South Florida specializing in Solution Focused and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, she is currently serving as a private practitioner working with a broad spectrum of clients. Among her areas of expertise are: ADHD, depression and anxiety for both children and adults, grief and loss, and relationship issues.
In addition, Stacey Brown has presented at conferences and to general audiences on topics ranging from parenting, wellness, educational accommodations, teacher training, behavior management and mental health topics.

Stacey Brown is a practical, interactive, solution-focused therapist. Her treatment approach is to provide support and practical feedback to help clients resolve current problems and long-standing patterns. She incorporates a blend of conventional and alternatives approaches, drawing upon a variety of styles and techniques to incorporate what will be most helpful for each client. With sensitivity and compassion, she works with each client to help them build on their strengths to identify and achieve life goals.