Dealing with Postpartum Depression

Kaiser Permanente psychologist Dr. Hillary Van Horn-Gatlin joined us in the FOX40 studio to discuss how to cope with postpartum depression and child stress.

What is postpartum depression?

  • Postpartum depression is a serious illness that can occur in the first few months after childbirth. It also can happen after miscarriage and stillbirth.
  • Postpartum depression can make you feel very sad, hopeless, and worthless. You may have trouble caring for and bonding with your baby.
  • Postpartum depression is not the "baby blues," which usually go away within a couple of weeks. The symptoms of postpartum depression can last for months.

How common?

  • Baby blues: 70 to 85 percent of all new mothers.
  • PPD: 25% of new mothers

What causes it?

  • Rapid changes in hormones
  • Fatigue
  • Demands in caring for a baby

Risk factors?

  • Personal or family history of depression or anxiety before pregnancy
  • Lack of support in caring for a new baby
  • Stressful life events: divorce or separation, marital stress, or job change

Signs to watch for -- Knowing what PPD looks like is the first step.

  • Restlessness / Irritability
  • Excessive crying
  • Exhaustion/ Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling overwhelmed or guilty
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Lack of interest in enjoyable activities

How is it diagnosed?

  • Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask about your symptoms.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor about any feelings of baby blues at your first checkup after the baby is

Why don’t moms seek help for postpartum depression?

  • May not know they have it
  • Embarrassed
  • Trying to be Supermom

How to help yourself?

  • Rest / sleep while baby sleeps—at night specifically.
  • Beware of visitors who keep you from sleep
  • Turn off the phone and put a sign on the door when you are napping.
  • Take good care of your body - gentle exercises, eat healthy foods, water.
  • Take the baby out for a walk.
  • Ask for help with chores or errands
  • Join a support group for new parents

How to help a new mom?

  • Listen

Offer help – cooking, shopping, cleaning, other household chores, and errands.

Dr. Van Horn-Gatlin says to mothers dealing with this that, above all, they are not alone.