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Adult Postpartum Depression

Overview

We are taught that having a baby is the happiest time in a woman’s life, but what may be less acknowledged is that it can also be one of the most stressful and anxiety-producing life transitions a woman will ever experience. It’s common for women to experience the “baby blues,” but up to one in seven women experience postpartum depression.

What is baby blues?

The baby blues is characterized by relatively mild symptoms such as irritability, depressed mood, and anxiety. It usually resolves within ten days of giving birth. Women who suffer from more severe baby blues symptoms are more likely to experience postpartum depression at a later point.

What is postpartum depression (PPD)?

PPD can at first look like the baby blues. They share many symptoms, including mood swings, crying, sadness, insomnia, and irritability. The difference is that the symptoms of PPD are more severe and longer-lasting. Symptoms may include lack of interest or negative feelings towards your baby, guilt, lack of energy, change in appetite and sleeping habits, or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

How does postpartum depression affects your baby?

If you’re struggling with symptoms of postpartum depression such as fatigue, irritability, apathy, and tearfulness, it is difficult—if not impossible—to properly look after your newborn’s needs. Your baby will be directly affected if your depression is left untreated. Children of depressed mothers are more likely to develop behavior problems, sleep problems, temper tantrums, hyperactivity, and developmental delays. The risk for social and emotional problems, language deficits, attentional problems, and depression may increase among children of depressed mothers.

Postpartum Depression and attachment

Mothers with postpartum depression interact less with their babies and are less likely to breastfeed, play with, and read to their children. They may also be inconsistent in the way they care for their newborns. Although depressed mothers can be loving and attentive at times, they may react negatively at other times or not react at all. This inconsistency disrupts the bonding process between mother and child. This emotional bonding process, known as attachment, is the most critical developmental process during infancy.

Treatment for Postpartum Depression

New mothers should remember that postpartum depression is a treatable condition. Zackson Psychology Group offers evidence-based treatments. Our expert clinicians are well versed in various therapies for treating PPD: 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Research has shown that CBT can be highly effective in helping with postpartum depression. The work involves:

  • Identifying and acknowledging automatic thoughts
  • Changing underlying beliefs
  • Differentiating between realistic and false threats.
  • Developing new and more helpful perspectives.

CBT helps new mothers develop coping strategies so that they feel better equipped to manage distress. To learn more about CBT, click here.

Psychodynamic therapy

In this type of therapy, a new mother may be encouraged to talk about relationships with parents and other significant people to uncover how past experiences directly impact present distress. When moms can identify and accept these experiences as playing a role, they can begin the process of healing and experience a reduction in tension and distress. Treatment focuses on communication skills, building relationships, and increasing self-confidence. To learn more about Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, click here.

Couples therapy

In some cases, our clinicians will suggest couples therapy to facilitate the healing process. Couples therapy provides a space for partners to be heard during a time of crisis. Couples will learn communication techniques and listening strategies necessary to help them work through challenges. Often in postpartum work, therapy will address issues related to changing dynamics in a relationship and intimacy challenges and address individual needs that may interfere with connection and are necessary for maintaining the health of a couple’s relationship. To learn more about Couples Therapy, click here.

Have questions? Ask our experts.

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