The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that teen pregnancy is almost always a crisis for the teens involved and their families. A teen who gives birth will suddenly realize that her life has to change. She might have to quit school, get homeschooled and work multiple jobs. Her social life will change dramatically and support networks might disappear. All of these things--plus changes in hormones--can lead to depression.
Many pregnant teens feel stressed and nervous about becoming parents, but most of them also hope they’ll be happy and excited when their babies are born. Most women, including teens, don’t prepare for the chance that they might become depressed after giving birth. The Mayo Clinic reports that 10 percent of new moms experience postpartum depression, which occurs within one month of having a baby. Postpartum depression symptoms are similar to the symptoms of major depression. However, a teen experiencing postpartum depression will also have trouble bonding with her baby and may have thoughts of harming herself or the baby.
Signs and Symptoms
Teen moms can also experience depression as their babies grow up to be toddlers, although it would no longer be considered postpartum depression. The signs and symptoms include overwhelming sadness or irritability, trouble eating and sleeping, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, loss of pleasure and sex drive and thoughts of suicide.
Scientists and researchers haven’t found one single cause of postpartum or major depression. The Mayo Clinic website reports that postpartum depression can be caused by a combination of the physical changes that occur after childbirth, emotional factors, such as sleep deprivation, and lifestyle factors, such as financial problems. Major depression can be caused by a blend of genetic factors, abnormal amounts of chemicals in a teen’s brain and environmental issues.
For both postpartum depression and major depression, treatment includes medication and therapy. With postpartum depression, doctors might also recommend hormone therapy. The most common form of medication used in treating teen depression is selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a type of antidepressant. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often used in treating adolescent depression. The therapist would help the teen mom understand how her thoughts affect her emotions and behaviors and teach the teen mom behavioral techniques to reduce symptoms of depression.
Teen moms who are having thoughts of hurting themselves or their babies need immediate help. You can get help for your teen by taking her to your local psychiatric emergency room, contacting her therapist or calling the police. Monitor her with her baby until she gets the help she needs, and her mood stabilizes.