Postpartum depression (PPD) is a depression that happens during pregnancy or within one year of welcoming a baby.
PPD affects about one in five mothers and is different than baby blues. PPD can also affect fathers and partners.
What to look for
Signs may include:
- continuous feelings of sadness and the inability to feel pleasure
- loss of interest in things that would normally bring pleasure
- trouble sleeping (i.e. difficulty falling asleep, early morning waking)
- Tiredness, fatigue or feeling exhausted
- changes in weight or appetite (can be an increase or a decrease)
- feeling irritable or angry
- excessive feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- inability to relax or always feeling anxious
- panic attacks
- unable to concentrate or make decisions
- frightening thoughts of harming yourself or baby
Effective treatment is available
There is no single cause of postpartum depression. Physical, hormonal, social, and emotional factors may cause the illness. It can happen to anyone. It can happen to people who have had children and adoptive families. Treatment is effective and available. If you are experiencing these symptoms let your public health nurse know, contact your health care provider, or call 811.
You have a greater chance of developing PPD if you:
- had depression or anxiety during pregnancy
- have a family history of depression
- experienced depression earlier in your life
- have recently gone through stressful life events
If you notice someone you care about is experiencing the signs of depression, talk with them about it. Support them in reaching out for help. Reach out yourself if you need support.
It is important to get treatment for depression. Getting help early can help reduce how long the depression lasts. The sooner you get treated; the sooner you will feel better.
Your wellbeing is important. Self-care is key to protecting your overall health and well-being. It may help protect against depression and anxiety as well as help to treat it.
Think of self-care like a NEST(S). Some tips for your NEST(S) may include:
Nutrition: Finding time to eat when you have a new baby in your home can be challenging. If someone asks how they can help, ask them for a week’s worth of healthy snacks that you can eat with one hand! Ready-made meals are handy too. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as much as possible.
Exercise: Think about what you like to do to move your body. Can you do that with baby? If so great, if not, can you arrange for help so you can do that on your own?
Sleep & Rest: Plan for how you will be able to get some sleep and rest. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Ask family or friends to care for the baby while you rest or nap. Take turns with your partner getting up with your baby at night if possible.
Time for Yourself: Think about what you do in your day that helps to boost your mood. Try to make time for that activity.
Support: Ask your friends, family or public health nurse about community resources that may be available for parents with your baby or without your baby. There may be local resources in your community and there may also be online support available.
Remember postpartum depression can happen to anyone. Treatment is available and it works.
Services related to this information:
- Contact your Public Health Nurse
- Doorways: rapid ‘one session at a time’ counselling services.
- Mental health and addictions services
- Bridge the gapp
Newfoundland and Labrador’s ‘go-to’ website for mental health information. Bridge the gapp offers self-help resources, links to local services, and invites people to share their personal stories. Bridge the gapp is free of cost and available to every resident in the province. The site is divided into adult and youth sections, however many services are appropriate for both.
- 811 HealthLine (Newfoundland & Labrador) – Call 811 or 1-888-709-2929 / TTY 1-888-709-3555
- 811 is free and confidential. 811 is available 24/7 and can provide support with mental health and addictions issues and more.
- Services formerly offered by the Provincial Mental Health Crisis Line are now offered by 811. Call 811 to speak with a registered nurse who is also a trained crisis intervener.