If you experience an amalgamation of some physical, behavioral and emotional alterations in your body, mind, and soul, then you are probably not alone as nearly 50 to 80 percent of women worldwide face this problem. There is no denial of the fact that babies are ample of work. It is pretty normal to be anxious, troubled and even fatigued due to lack of sleep and taking your child’s utmost care. This phenomenon that most women experience is known as baby blues and usually lasts for a week or two. It is quite mild and goes away on its own. However, if the feelings exacerbate or prevail for more than 2 to 4 weeks, it might be a more serious problem of depression, which needs medical attention.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Depression after a mother delivers her child is, generally, referred to as postpartum depression or PPD. It is a mood disorder and a form of major depression, linked to social, chemical and psychological variations after pregnancy. A study indicated that 1 in every 10 women face the problem of PPD. In fact, a few new fathers may even suffer from this kind of depression. Feeling low or being depressed can also start during pregnancy, this is termed as prenatal depression. The sense of sadness or fear can be a result of different expectations after becoming a new mother.
Causes of Postpartum Depression
While the exact generic cause of depression is not known physical and emotional issues might induce postpartum depression.
- Physical changes: A woman’s body undergoes numerous hormonal changes due to pregnancy. The female hormones, estrogen, and progesterone, are produced in excess quantity during maternity and within 24 hours right after the delivery, they drop rapidly down to the non-pregnant level. Thus, these drastic changes in hormones can trigger anxiety. In certain cases, fall in thyroid hormones formed by the thyroid gland, which help in regulating the way the body utilizes energy, can also cause irritable moods, difficulties in sleep and concentration and weight gain. This triggering of hormones can also lead to sluggishness and tiredness.
- Emotional issues: Sleep deprivation and feeling of being overwhelmed can hamper handling even minor troubles. Anxiousness and fear of being able to take care of your newborn, sense of loss of own identity and feeling of being less attractive can all add up to the risk of this kind of depression.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
The problems related to postpartum depression can vary from being mild to severe. These include symptoms of baby blues along with some other complications. The signs may be different in every woman but some commonly experienced problems include:
- Disturbed sleeping patterns, either sleeping excessively or not a bit
- Emotional numbness
- Loss of interest to care for one’s own self
- Appetite changes
- Decreased libido or sexual drive
- Difficulty in remembering things and making even small decisions
- Frequent mood swings
- A strong emotion of worthlessness and a feeling of failure
- Loss of joy in life
- Overly demanding attitude due to higher expectations
- Withdrawal from friends and family
Major depression may escalate to such an extent that even suicidal thoughts or urges to hurt someone may arise.
Risk factors of Suffering from Postpartum Depression:
The risk of getting depression after surgery increases due to the following factors:
- Risk also depends on the age of a woman at the time of delivering. The younger you are, the more likely you are to develop this form of depression.
- The biggest factor contributing to the prevalence of this depression is your own personal mental history. If you have suffered from any sort of depression earlier, you lie at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression.
- Chances of suffering from this problem also rise if you have a family history of any mental illness or depression.
- Loneliness due to living alone
- Restricted or limited social support
- Marital conflict
- Chronic illness
- Highly stressful events happened or happening in life
- Problems in delivering the fetus
- Unplanned pregnancy
Can Postpartum Depression be Treated?
Fortunately, many cures are available for treating a person suffering from this mental trauma. It is healed differently in concordance with the nature, type, and severity of a woman’s condition. The options may comprise of antidepressant medications or anti-anxiety pills, psychotherapy, talk therapy or counseling, garnering emotional support from participating in support groups, etc. In most severe cases, medications like brexanolone may even be prescribed. Under doctor’s guidance and supervision, it is alright to take medication as it would not affect your breastfeeding.
When Does A New Mother Need To Seek Professional Care?
Postpartum depression, if not treated well in time, can be really dangerous for new mothers and their babies. Professional help is quite necessary when symptoms of baby blues persist beyond 2 weeks and the mother is not able to cope up with everyday small- small situations. If due to any reason, she feels like harming herself of her child in any way, it requires immediate attention. Feelings of being anxious, panicked or scared for most of the time also require professional treatment.
Some Tips to Follow
- Rest, support and nutrition are key to avoid such kind of depression. In this regard, the following tips may prove helpful:
- Eat frequently in small proportions to maintain the level of blood sugar in the body
- Eat a well-balanced and healthy diet
- Try community support resources like contacting local self- help groups
- Read or write something to uplift your mood
- Mild physical exertion or daily walk can help a great deal in elevating mood
- Your body needs at least 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep
- Make lists and try to be organized as far as possible, this can help in reducing stress levels
- But, most importantly be open about your feelings to friends, family, and partner.
Also Read: Self Care Post Pregnancy