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Postpartum Depression during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Postpartum Depression during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Welcoming a baby is one of the most joyous experiences in life, but in the days following your little one’s arrival, feelings of sadness or what many call the “baby blues” can surface. While these sentiments are normal, it’s when these feelings persist beyond a couple of weeks that elevate concern and introduce the possibility of postpartum depression.  

 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, postpartum depression affects approximately one in eight women. But now, with the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which has enhanced feelings of isolation and loneliness, experts anticipate a new surge in this statistic. 

 

Postpartum depression: a rising concern  

 

Having a support system of family and friends is significant for the vitality of your maternal mental health. But when a global pandemic places physical distance between you and your support system, causing you to care for your newborn without help, emotions might spiral into an unhealthy cycle of anxiety and despair.  If this resonates, you are not alone. It’s important to be aware that such feelings could be signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, which may include: 

 

  • Sadness or “baby blues” not improving after the first two weeks postpartum 

  • Severe mood swings, including irritability and anger 

  • Constant crying, sobbing or weeping 

  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed 

  • Apathetic when it comes to making decisions 

  • Not engaging or experiencing difficulty in bonding with your baby 

  • Trouble sleeping (not caused by having a newborn) or sleeping too much 

  • Fatigue and loss of energy 

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness or helplessness 

  • Frequent worrying or heightened levels of anxiety 

  • Doubt and fear of your parenting abilities 

  • Changes in appetite (either eating too little or more than usual) 

  • Withdrawal from others, including friends and family 

 

If you are experiencing racing thoughts, hallucinations, thoughts of suicide or thoughts of harm to others, including your baby, it’s important to seek help immediately. Your doctor or trained mental health care provider can discuss personalized treatment options, which may include therapy and/or medication.  

 

Postpartum depression: support 

 

While social support is significant when it comes to postpartum depression, physical distancing has made this a challenge. Family and friends can still provide support by staying connected through video visits and phone calls, as well as by making arrangements for meal and grocery deliveries. Spouses or partners can assist by providing reassurance that things will get better, encouraging conversation to discuss feelings and making it a priority to help out around the house.  

 

While COVID-19 has added a new layer of complexity in the way we interact with one another, encouragement and support from others can make a difference. Remember, depression is not a choice and takes time, understanding, ongoing support and treatment for improvement.  

Additional resources for families struggling with postpartum depression can be found at postpartum.net.  

 

As information on COVID-19 evolves, guidance sourced from the CDC and other resources contained in this blog may be subject to change. This material is intended for general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your medical provider for personal care recommendations.