Postpartum depression can affect new moms of all ages, but when you’re 16 and pregnant, it can add more stress on top of an already stressful situation. Taking the time to learn the symptoms of postpartum depression and knowing what to do if you develop the condition can help you get a better handle on it. Just remember, postpartum depression is a very real medical condition and is not a sign of weakness or lack of love for your baby.
The Mayo Clinic explains that there is no single cause for postpartum depression, and several factors can play a large role. Your body’s rapidly changing hormones are one potential cause. Being 16 and pregnant can make it worse because, as a teenager, you are already going through so many hormone changes. Your emotional state also plays a role in postpartum depression, especially if you’re sleep deprived and already feeling anxious about being a new mom.
There is a huge difference between the “baby blues” and postpartum depression. Most new moms experience some form of “blues” during the first few weeks after delivery. Symptoms include difficulty sleeping, crankiness, sadness, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating. When you’re 16 and pregnant, the period after delivery can be even more stressful as you struggle to adapt to a whole new role as a mother. It is perfectly normal to be irritable, anxious, and confused. If the symptoms linger past the initial first couple of weeks, or interfere with your ability to care for your baby, you may be suffering from postpartum depression.
The symptoms of postpartum depression vary between women, but may include insomnia, extreme irritability, exhaustion, loss of appetite, and loss of interest in daily activities. You may also have difficulty bonding with your baby, or suffer from overwhelming feelings of guilt or shame. Your moods may swing violently from happy to sad to angry and back. If you’re 16 and pregnant, you may already have feelings of guilt or shame, and postpartum can enhance those feelings. If you ever feel like you are going to hurt yourself or your baby, get help immediately.
If your daughter is 16 and pregnant, it can be a little more difficult to determine which behaviors are signs of postpartum depression and which are simply normal reactions to be a teenage mom. For example, mood swings are a common sign in adult women, but teenagers are already prone to mood swings by nature. Withdrawing from family and friends may signal postpartum, or it may be part of your daughter’s coping mechanisms if her friends aren’t being supportive, or even a sign of maturity on her part if her friends are not the type of people she would want around her baby. Keep an eye out for other signs of depression, talk to your daughter frequently to get an idea of what is going on in her mind, and let her know that you are there for her if she needs to talk. You know your daughter better than anyone, so if anything feels off, encourage her to seek help.