Post partum depression, what is it really?

Posted By on September 27, 2012

By now, many of us have heard of mom’s who have difficulty caring for their newborns due to ‘baby blues’; few share these feelings with their doctor due to feelings of inability to verbalize how they feel or why they feel that way.  Many women will think ‘I have a beautiful baby and a loving family, why do I feel so depressed?’  Post partum depression is triggered by the sudden drop in female hormones from the high values needed to support a healthy pregnancy and growing baby to a woman’s body that needs to recover from childbirth and may also be dealing with breastfeeding that baby that is now growing at a faster pace outside of her body.  Hormones drop post partum and many breastfeeding women do not have their periods return for several months or sometimes until they are done breastfeeding.  This sudden drop in hormone is a mirror image to what a woman’s body does with perimenopause/menopause, yet no one will think to check hormone levels or address the psychological swings that occur.  These patients may indeed also have a need for significant psychological support as their focus changes to caregiving of a new infant in addition to healing themselves and maintaining a family; many times also planning a return to the workforce as well.   One of the best safety nets that can be provided is to acknowledge post partum depression as the potential hormone imbalance that it is and not just a need for anti-depressants.  This is the same approach that was done for the past 50years and it’s time to acknowledge that the issue is still there and we haven’t really helped it very much.  Ask your doctor or healthcare provider for bloodwork to check your Estradiol, Progesterone and Testosterone levels; may also wish to include TSH for thyroid and Cortisol for adrenals (stress organ); all of these hormones interact and influence each other and all can be easily addressed.

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