• By Deborah Balzer

Mayo Clinic Minute: Understanding postpartum depression

February 21, 2018

A new mother may experience many emotions ─ from joy, excitement and fear to feelings of being overwhelmed. Some new mothers also may experience the baby blues. Others may experience a more severe type of depression. Dr. Vandana Bhide, a pediatrician at Mayo Clinic, says postpartum depression is common, and there is help available.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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Adjusting to being a new mother can be stressful. It’s normal. So is feeling an array of emotions. Dr. Bhide says if a new mom is experiencing changed behaviors, different moods or not feeling engaged with her infant, she may be experiencing postpartum depression.

“Right after birth, there’s an immediate drop in the estrogen and progesterone levels in the bloodstream, and these hormone shifts can cause lots of mood changes. It can cause depression," says Dr. Bhide.

And the estrogen and progesterone changes can affect serotonin levels. Dr. Bhide says medication can raise those levels. Cognitive therapy also may help.

Dr. Bhide advises family members and loved ones to be supportive. And, she says, “Anybody who is continuing over two weeks to have sadness, irritability, hopelessness or feeling overwhelmed, or having negative thoughts about yourself or your baby should seek attention immediately.”

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Physician and patient discussing treatment