Mental health is just as important as physical health to a child's well-being.

Mental health is just as important as physical health to a child's well-being.

Why do I feel sad and overwhelmed by taking care of my young child? What can I do?

Being a parent or caregiver is hard work and very demanding. Feeling sad and having lack of energy after giving birth is normal for 50-80% of new mothers. Many new mothers will feel anxious, tired, sad, irritable or angry within the first 10 days after giving birth. Usually these feelings go away.  For a small number of new mothers and fathers more serious depression can occur anytime within the first year after birth of a child and the depression can last a year or longer. Depression can worsen when there are other life stressors, such as being poor, losing a job, marriage problems or lack of social supports, etc. Long term depression may include lack of interest in activities, decreased appetite, sleep problems, tiredness, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, not being able to make decisions and even thoughts of death.

Because depression can affect a parent’s ability to care for their infant, it is important to get help as soon as possible. Your doctor can help you figure out whether your feelings are normal or not and can refer you to a specialist who can help. It is important to talk to someone you trust about your feelings who can help you decide what to do next. If you live in Connecticut, you can also call 2-1-1 or visit their website to search for support. Another website called, Postpartum Support International is a great resource to find support groups and resources in your state.

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