Consulting psychiatrist Carol Lynn Childers works for Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that provides services for individuals with serious mental illnesses. Dr. Carol Lynn Childers also serves as a consulting psychiatrist for the Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling Postpartum Depression Foundation.
The “baby blues” is a colloquial expression used to describe the common experience parents have following the elation of the birth of a child. As the lack of sleep and inability to regularly engage with friends, family, and hobbies begin to catch up with new parents, many begin experiencing exhaustion and mood swings. In 10 to 15 percent of new mothers, this can lead to a more significant condition called postpartum depression (PPD).
A number of indicators suggest PPD, but the most basic symptoms are hopelessness and chronic sadness. Tiredness and frustration are part of the newborn experience for parents, but depression is not.
A general timeline can help differentiate between baby blues and PPD. Baby blues typically lasts about two weeks, while PPD generally does not end without intervention and intensifies as the days go by.
In addition to sadness, guilt is a common symptom of PPD. Again, questioning the decision to become a parent is common for women, but extended crying spells resulting from excessive doubts about motherhood are likely an early symptom of PPD.
Other common symptoms of PPD include difficulty making decisions, irregular sleep patterns, and a lack of interest in things that used to bring joy. Parents who feel their issues extend beyond the baby blues should discuss their concerns with a physician.
An accomplished mental health professional, Dr. Carol Lynn Childers brings more than three decades of experience to her role as a consulting psychiatrist at Chicago-area organizations Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare and Healthcare Alternative Systems. Dr. Carol Lynn Childers works with patients suffering from a variety of serious illnesses, including those experiencing postpartum depression.
A condition affecting approximately one in every eight new mothers, postpartum depression can include symptoms such as mood swings, confused thinking, and other signs of depression. While psychotherapy is often the recommended treatment for postpartum depression, women can supplement therapy with other coping strategies:
Self Care: Between taking care of the new baby and social visits from friends and family, the weeks and months after giving birth is an incredibly busy time. Though it might feel like shirking your responsibilities, experts recommend finding some time for yourself during this period, whether that means going for a walk on your own or simply taking a long bath.
Exercise: Studies have indicated that exercise may be beneficial for women with postpartum depression. Though you may feel too exhausted for a strenuous workout, even light exercise such as yoga or pushing a stroller can have a positive effect.
Connect with Others: When you’re struggling with postpartum depression, social activities may seem overwhelming. However, research has consistently shown that connecting with other mothers to talk about the emotions you are experiencing, either through support groups or one-on-one chats, can make a big difference in your mental health.
Dr. Carol Lynn Childers concurrently serves Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare and Healthcare Alternative Systems as a consulting psychiatrist. In her practice, Dr. Carol Lynn Childers works with patients who undergo postpartum depression.
Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal about 20 percent of women experience postpartum depression symptoms while pregnant or at any time after childbirth. This condition results from a combination of changes, not only physically and emotionally, but also chemically, socially, and psychologically. New mothers with postpartum depression may experience the following:
Abnormal sleeping habits. A new mom with postpartum depression may have trouble sleeping or may excessively spend all her time in bed. She may not be able to rest even when the baby is sleeping or at the time she is supposed to, no matter how tiring her day was. Or she may struggle to stay awake, preventing her from performing daily tasks.
Frequent mood changes. A new mom experiencing postpartum depression may experience an overwhelming feeling of guilt as a result of being worried, confused, scared, impatient, irritated, and angry. She may feel worthless, hopeless, and helpless, and may think of hurting herself or someone else.
With early diagnosis, postpartum depression can be dealt with through proper medication and counseling.
A McGill University Medical School graduate, Dr. Carol Lynn Childers concurrently serves as a consulting psychiatrist at Healthcare Alternative Systems and Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare in Chicago, working with individuals who have serious mental illnesses. As part of her role at Healthcare Alternative Systems, Carol Lynn Childers treats women with postpartum depression.
Although many people have heard of postpartum depression, it only affects between 10 and 20 percent of new moms. This serious problem is characterized by an inability to bond well with a baby, withdrawal from a partner, out-of-control anxiety, and overwhelming feelings of worthlessness. These symptoms often last longer than two to three weeks and may not even show up until two to three weeks after delivery.
Due to a similarity between symptoms, many new moms confuse postpartum depression with the baby blues. The baby blues is a short-term issue that results in sudden dips in mood. About 70 to 80 percent of all new moms experience the baby blues because of the extreme hormonal changes in the body following birth. Although the feelings associated with baby blues can feel like a major problem, the mood swings usually stop after one to two weeks, and new moms can continue raising their infant.