A new baby brings excitement to a household, but it also brings many changes and responsibilities for parents. It's not uncommon for mothers to experience sadness, anxiety, irritability, or mood swings following the birth of a child. These feelings, known as the Baby Blues, usually pass within days or a couple of weeks, but occasionally they don't subside and other symptoms of depression may develop.

While there is no specific cause for postpartum depression, it can generally be linked to a combination of hormonal changes, genetic factors, and environmental factors. Depression following child birth may also affect the father/partner and is sometimes called, “Paternal Postnatal Depression”, or PPND.

* While the term, “postpartum depression”, is commonly used, there are actually a number of overlapping mood and anxiety disorders varying in severity that may occur in the perinatal period (from pregnancy through to the first year postpartum).

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Maternal PPD

Postpartum depression generally occurs when the mother has difficulty meeting the constant demands and challenges a new born child presents. She may feel overwhelmed and unable to perform all that's required of her, making her susceptible to experiencing a depressive state.

There are two stages of postpartum depression. The most common is maternal PPD, which consists of moderate levels of depression. The second stage is maternal postpartum psychosis, which is more severe and requires immediate medical attention.

Paternal PPD

Depression following child birth may also affect the partner and/or father. The partner may experience difficulty adjusting to the abrupt changes and new challenges presented within the household following child birth. This is labeled paternal postpartum depression.

Maternal PPD is believed to be a significant predictor of paternal postpartum depression. Also, relationship dissatisfaction or lack of spousal support could increase a partner's susceptibility to experiencing PPD.

Symptoms

Postpartum Depression

  • Feelings of emptiness, failure and worthlessness
  • Sadness and crying
  • Withdrawal from family members or friends
  • Loss of desire to engage in physical activity or activities that once brought joy
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping patterns
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Lack of interest in the baby
  • Possible thoughts of harming the baby or suicide

Postpartum Psychosis

  • Severe symptoms of a depressive state plus:
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood swings that change rapidly
  • Thoughts of harming the baby or suicide
  • IMPORTANT: Immediate medical attention is needed.

Postpartum Anxiety 

  • Constant worrying
  • Sleep and/or eating disturbances
  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Physical symptoms can include shortness of breath, muscle tension, dizziness, racing heart, etc.

Treatment

It is important for individuals who may be experiencing the symptoms identified above to talk to a health care professional about how they  are feeling. Treatment options may include talk therapy, medication, social supports, practical help, etc.

MDAM offers several support options for those struggling with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including peer-to-peer support via phone, email or in-person, as well as workshops and support groups. Through these services, individuals can connect with a MDAM volunteer or employee who has lived experience with postpartum depression. Our volunteers and employees will provide information, coping mechanisms, support, and hope to those in need. Each peer-to-peer interaction is confidential and free of charge. Read our postpartum services page for more information and for upcoming workshop dates.

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MDAM also recommends self care for those experiencing perinatal  mood and anxiety disorders. Self care includes taking time for yourself, physical activity and eating well. These self care options can lessen the symptoms for people experiencing mood disorders.

*Professional treatment is recommended for individuals experiencing severe symptoms related to postpartum depression.

Support Resources

Postpartum Warm Line: ‪(204) 391-5983 (‪9 a.m. – 9 p.m./ 7 days a week)

Postpartum Email Support: postpartumwarmline@mooddisordersmanitoba.ca

Postpartum Support Group: Call (204) 250-3079 for times, or check our calendar.

SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. Baby Blues and Better Days Program: Read the Postpartum Services page for details.

Health links: ‪(204) 788-8200 or ‪1-888-315-9257 (24 hours/ 7 days a week)

Postpartum Depression Association of Manitoba: ‪www.ppdmanitoba.ca

Crisis Resources: http://www.ppdmanitoba.ca/in-crisis/