Postpartum depression may affect as many as 15% of new mothers. Depression is not the “baby blues” which usually passes in a few weeks. Symptoms of postpartum depression usually begin any time in the first year after childbirth include:
- Lack of interest in, or negative feelings toward, the baby.
- Lack of energy and motivation, including lack of concern for yourself.
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
- Fear or worry about harming the baby.
- Recurring thoughts of suicide or death.
- Changes in weight, appetite or amount of sleep.
Some mothers are more likely than others to suffer symptoms of postpartum depression. Among them are those who:
- Have difficulty caring for the infant, especially a child with serious medical problems.
- Are in a troubled marriage, or lack supportive friends and family.
- Experienced depression or postpartum depression in the past.
- Endured recent significant stress.
It may not be as widely recognized that women are not the only sufferers of postpartum depression. It is a problem that can also affect fathers of new babies, and the effects on parents and children are similar in those instances.
My goals in postpartum depression counseling are to promote emotional well-being by reducing level of anxiety, increase energy and ability to concentrate, and provide education. Such improvements can multiply positive results, as seen below:
Positive maternal characteristics such as ability to provide care for her infant despite a lack of desire to do so and ability to remain positive in her response to her infant contributes to infant smiling and laughter. Infant smiling and laughter is a good indication of positive emotional development and also has a positive effect on parents–
Bridgett, D., Laake, L., Gartstein, M., and Dorn, D. Development of Infantile Positive Emotionality: The Contribution of Maternal Characteristics and Effects on subsequent Parenting – 2013