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Postpartum Depression: Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Treatments

“You are not alone,” says Dr. Lena Pearlman, LCSW, the clinical director at Dr. Lena Pearlman & Associates, a mental health therapy practice in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

It is important to remind yourself of the message above: You are not alone. The Cleveland Clinic says, “As many as 50 to 75% of new mothers experience a shift in their emotions called the ‘baby blues’ after delivery. Up to 15% of these women will develop a more severe and longer-lasting depression, called postpartum depression, after delivery”. WebMD states that Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a culmination of emotional, behavioral, and physical changes following the birth of the child, beginning within 4 weeks following the delivery.

Symptoms of Baby Blues (retrieved from MayoClinic):

  • Mood swings
  • Sadness
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability

Symptoms of PPD (retrieved from MayoClinic):

  • Depressed mood/severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with child
  • Withdrawing from family/friends
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

Risk factors for PPD (retrieved from MayoClinic):

  • If you have bipolar disorder
  • If you have had postpartum after a previous pregnancy
  • Having a weak support system
  • Financial issues
  • If the pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted

PPD can last for quite some time if it goes untreated. When thinking about treatment, Dr. Lena Pearlman says:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be a very effective treatment for those experiencing PPD. I encourage a significant amount of self-care (good nutrition, quality sleep, finding ways to relax). It’s recommended that those experiencing PPD join a support group because, again, they are certainly not alone. I encourage those with PPD to allow themselves the opportunity to go outside, sleep, meditate, and do what feels good. It’s important to talk with people they trust – family and social support can be immensely beneficial. People experiencing PPD tend to struggle with feeling bad, and that shame and guilt is very difficult to carry around. It’s not their fault. This is where we can help. Additionally, I have them consult with their physician about medications. It is important to note that it is safe to take medications while breastfeeding as long as they have consulted with their doctor.

Drew Barrymore said: “I didn’t have postpartum the first time so I didn’t understand it, because I was like, ‘I feel great!’ The second time, I was like, ‘Oh, whoa, I see what people talk about now. I understand.’ It’s a different type of overwhelming with the second. I really got under the cloud”. Dr. Pearlman said, “PPD doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter your age, income, or how many kids you have had, even if you never experienced PPD prior. PPD does not discriminate.”

You are not alone.

Dr. Lena Pearlman & Associates is a St Louis mental health therapy practice in Creve Coeur, Missouri. The practice has a team of mental health therapists who provide therapy and counseling services to kids, teens, adults, couples, and families. Dr. Lena Pearlman & Associates specializes in stress, anxiety, depression, relationships, and other mental health related issues and concerns. The practice can be reached by phone at: 314-942-1147, by email at: bryan@stlmentalhealth.com or on the web at: www.STLmentalhealth.com. The office is located at: 655 Craig Road, Suite 300, St. Louis, MO 63141.