By Jenny Everett, SELF magazine
It feels like just about everyone we know just had a baby or is sporting an adorable baby bump. While this is generally happy news, according to a new study, one-third of women experience depression in the first 12 years of their kids' lives, and they're most ask risk during the 12 months following birth.
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Whether you're a mom-to-be or thinking of starting a family in the next few years, it's important to know how you can minimize the risk and extent of postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is the result of a combination of hormonal and biological imbalances, which makes it difficult to avoid, according to Elizabeth Hopfenspirger, president of Jenny's Light, a nonprofit aimed at raising awareness about postpartum depression.
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That said, there are certain actions that can lessen the risk, including: Proper nutrition, adequate sleep, exercise, adequate support system, a willingness to speak openly about thoughts and feelings and an awareness that postpartum depression can happen to anyone.
"I feel that the most important thing is for the pregnant woman to appoint someone to be their 'angel,'" says Hopfenspirger, who has personally suffered from postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD. "This 'angel' is responsible for educating themselves on the signs, symptoms and risk factors for postpartum depression."
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According to Jenny's Light, some of those symptoms include: Feeling sad or down, frequent crying or tearfulness, feeling restless or anxious, loss of pleasure in life, loss of or increase in appetite, less energy and motivation to do things, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, feeling worthless or guilty, unexplained weight loss or gain, feeling like life isn't worth living and showing little interest in the baby.
"The angel will check in with the new mother at least weekly and ask, 'How are you REALLY feeling?' They will be fully present and non-judgmental," she says. "It is a comfort for the new mother to know that someone out there is going to ask the tough questions, and someone is looking out for her -- mentally and emotionally."
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Have you suffered from the baby blues? Or have you helped a friend get through postpartum depression?
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