The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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What causes PPD?> Hendrick says the stresses of being a new mother and assuming new responsibilities appear to be more significant than hormonal shifts in causing PPD. Women with a history of depression are the most susceptible, followed by single moms who are isolated or who lack social support. If you have a high-needs baby, you may also be vulnerable.
One of the most potent risk factors for postpartum depression is conflict with the father. “That’s one reason I like to see the couple together when I do an assessment,” Hendrick says.
There’s also evidence that women who were depressed during pregnancy are at greater risk. So it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about any symptoms even before the baby comes.
And to maintain as much emotional stability as possible, put off making big
life changes such as switching jobs, moving or buying a new house for as long as possible after giving birth.
What to do> Share your feelings with family and friends. Talk to your doctor; PPD should be treated, whether with psychotherapy, appropriate medications or a combination of both. Research indicates that even if you’re breastfeeding, it’s safe to use most antidepressants. “We’d rather have a woman nurse and take an antidepressant than have her stay depressed,” Hendrick says. “In terms of the baby, it’s better to have a happy mom than to be exposed to the mom’s depression.”
And know that other women have successfully overcome PPD. “Find out as much as you can,” Freed says. “There’s so much more [information] out there now than when I went through it. Spouses need to read about it, too; otherwise they won’t know what you’re going through.”