Postpartum Depression: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Postpartum Depression: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

12 Feb 2022 | 11 min Read

Manisha Pradhan

Author | 74 Articles

A new mom is triggered by a plethora of emotions like anxiety, fear, joy, and excitement, etc, after the birth of her baby. Baby Blues, as they call it, is one of the most common expressions a new mom might have to go through. However, what’s a little more concerning is the postpartum depression that some new mothers experience during this time. It is a long-lasting and difficult phase and may cause severe mood disorders in mums.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

After childbirth, some new moms may face a range of emotional changes, such as excessive anxiety. This anxiety is known as postpartum anxiety and sometimes it can be so severe that it leads to depression. It may even interfere with her ability to  do simple everyday tasks. Post partum depression is often linked to psychological, chemical, social, and physical changes post- birth. 

Postpartum depression is also a result of the extreme or physical changes that many new mothers experience. It usually begins within the first two to four weeks post-delivery, but in some cases, it can also start as early as two to three days after delivery. It can also occur anytime in the first year after childbirth.

Types of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression occurs after a woman has given birth to a newborn. During this time, she goes through certain emotional highs and lows, such as, exhaustion, guilt, worry, and difficulty caring for her newborn.

There are 3 types of Postpartum Depression: 

Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is one of the most severe types of postpartum depression symptoms and needs immediate medical treatment. This is a kind of rare and uncommon post partum depression that affects only 1 in 1,000 people after delivery. The symptoms usually appear soon after delivery and last for a few weeks or months. During this time, a mother goes through severe mood and physical changes, such as feelings of hopelessness, and struggling with insomnia.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is also a serious disorder that affects around every one in  seven new parents. If you’ve experienced post partum depression in your previous pregnancy, your chances of suffering from  it again rise to 30% with each pregnancy. You may experience postpartum symptoms such as  feelings of guilt, worry, and incapacity to care for your infant or yourself, as well as frequent irritability.

Postpartum Blues or Baby Blues

After childbirth, around 50% to 75% of mothers experience baby blues. In this condition, you may experience frequent, protracted episodes of sobbing for no apparent reason, as well as unhappiness and feelings of worry. It  commonly appears one to four days following birth. This condition seldom requires therapy, and resolves on its own in about two weeks.

What Causes Postpartum Depression?

Your body goes through a lot of physical and emotional changes during childbirth. These factors may take a toll on your overall health and lead to postpartum depression. Here are more postpartum depression causes which you must check out:

  • Post-pregnancy depression is mostly linked to chemical, social, and psychological changes that happen during childbirth. Many new mothers experience a range of physical and emotional changes after giving birth.
  • The levels of the female reproductive hormones; namely, oestrogen and progesterone, increase during pregnancy. However,  after delivery, they drop drastically and after three days post-delivery the levels return back to normal. This fluctuation may also contribute to postpartum depression..
  • Besides the chemical changes, the psychological and social changes of having a baby are also responsible for increasing the risk of post partum depression.
  • Other factors such as a sudden decrease in thyroid hormones, may also leave you fatigued, sluggish, and feeling sad.
  • When you’re sleep-deprived and overworked, even simple issues can be difficult to handle. You may feel worried about not being able to care for your newborn. These feelings may further increase the risk of postpartum depression.
  • You may feel hopeless, or feel like you’ve lost control of your life. These thoughts may also contribute to postpartum depression.

However, there is nothing to worry about as it can be treated with counselling and medication.

What are the Signs and  Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?

About one in every seven women experiences post-pregnancy depression and is said to be adversely affected by the same, if not treated early. Unfortunately, this condition is also ignored by many women,  one in every five women to be exact.

15 Common Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression:

  1. Severe fatigue
  2. Frequent mood changes
  3. Sleep disorders
  4. Excessive crying with no apparent  reason or feeling of sadness
  5. Crankiness and irritability
  6. The feeling of hopelessness and helplessness
  7. Lack of interest in your newborn
  8. The feeling of not being able to bond  with your newborn
  9. Feelings of inadequacy, humiliation, or worthlessness
  10. Fear of not being a good mother
  11. Restlessness
  12. Suspicion of hurting yourself or your child
  13. Thoughts of death or suicide
  14. Going through severe anxiety and panic attacks

How to Deal with Postpartum Anxiety Symptoms 

It is a treatable disorder, to say the least, and can be effectively managed. However, you may also consider reaching out to healthcare experts and asking for help. You don’t have to struggle alone. You constantly need to remind yourself that the unhappy feelings that you’re encountering are in no way your fault and it doesn’t in any way make you a terrible parent.

Here are a few tips on how you can manage the depression symptoms on your own:

1. Intimacy

Intimacy with newborn

It is essential to build a strong emotional bond between you and your child, as it gives your little one the feeling of safety and assurance. However,  postpartum depression has a significantly large impact on the early bonding stages between you and your child. 

A strong intimate bond will have a good impact. This not just has an impact on the way they communicate and form relationships throughout their life, and it will also keep you motivated,  as a parent, to understand your child better.

  • Establishing a strong bond with your child early on, will keep you distracted and not give you time to overthink or analyse depressed feelings or thoughts. 

  • While some parent-child relationships are filled with instant and intense feelings of love and affection from the beginning , others may take some time to get familiar with the same. Do not be stressed due to this reason, give your child the time to become familiar with you.
  • It is actually pretty normal if you, as a parent, don’t feel like you and your child are bonding enough. It will happen gradually and, rushing it won’t change much. It may take weeks or sometimes even months to feel some kind of attachment with your baby.
  • Close contact with your baby or someone you love, for that matter, is said to boost a hormone called Oxytocin, i.e. the love and cuddle hormone. Oxytocin helps in encouraging happiness and also allows for more sensitive and caring feelings.

2. Selfcare

Napping and rest are extremely crucial for  new mums and their mental health. One of the most essential lifestyle choices that you could possibly make is to make it a point to take care of yourself.

  • You could do this in umpteen number of ways, from pampering yourself by getting weekly or monthly mani-pedis to catching up on your favourite television shows or spending some time with your friends.
  • You could also consider improving your diet. Add Omega-3 food items or supplements to your diet. Omega-3 is known to act as a potential alternative treatment to help combat depression.
  • Add and delete certain things from your schedule as well. Naptime and rest are one of the most basic activities that you could incorporate into your routine.
  • Napping is really important as a mother and not devoting enough time to this can be really hazardous, not only for your body, but for your mental health as well.
  • Low quality of sleep could mess with your mental health, hence, practice relaxing techniques that help you fall asleep instantly.
  • Add Vitamin D to your daily schedule, because. A little sunlight hurts no one. Sunlight can actually brighten up your mood and day. Take your baby along with you in their stroller,  and spend some time soaking in the sun.

3. Exercise

Exercise is very important for your body to remain healthy and strong. Due to all the exhaustion, the comforting, breastfeeding, and taking care of a newborn, you may struggle to find the strength for physical exercise, but remember,  some amount of movement is very important for your body and aids in your recovery.

  • Practise light exercises that  strengthen your abdominal muscles. It can relieve stress, promote better sleep, and also boosts your energy levels.
  • Walking or going for a stroll is also a good way to recharge your body.
  • You might also want to take a membership at gyms that offer special postpartum programmes.

Interaction with people outside your household is necessary too. You cannot constantly stay at home just because you feel overwhelmed taking care of your newborn. Humans are social beings, and having conversations, sharing things with friends and family, helps them be happy. It also boosts self-esteem and gives one a sense of independence, and reduces stress levels.

Diagnosis for Postpartum Depression 

If you think you could be suffering from postnatal depression, make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will discuss your postpartum symptoms and thoughts with you. They Will also inquire how long you’ve been noticing depression symptoms. 

Your doctor may ask you to fill out a depression questionnaire or request a blood test to assess your hormone levels. Moreover, mild depression can sometimes be treated with the help of psychotherapy, or other therapies. In that case, antidepressants are mostly prescribed.

Risk Factors of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression can affect any new mother after the delivery. But the risk, however, rises if you:

  • You’ve struggled with depression in the past.
  • You suffer from bipolar illness.
  • You’ve had a hard year, with things like pregnancy issues, illness, or taking a break from work.
  • Your child has medical issues.
  • Breast-feeding difficulties.
  • Your connection with your spouse or others is causing you trouble.
  • You have a weak support network.
  • You’re having financial difficulties.
  • If you had an unintended and unplanned pregnancy.

Postpartum Depression in Males

Postpartum depression can affect new fathers as well. They also can feel sad or tired, overwhelmed, anxious, or have changes in their normal eating and sleeping routines. These symptoms are in fact indications of postpartum depression in them. Young fathers, who have a history of depression, marital issues, or are financially unstable are  most vulnerable to postpartum depression. After childbirth, depression in fathers is often known as Paternal postpartum depression. In fact, it has the same detrimental impact on partner interactions and child development as depression in women post delivery. 

FAQs:

How to overcome postpartum depression?

From delight and excitement of welcoming your newborn, to anxiety and dread, being a parent elicits a wide range of emotions. But to overcome postnatal depression, you’ll need to start by building a secure bond with your baby, and taking good care of yourself. You should also consider exercising again, and  building a healthy support network.

How long does postpartum depression last?

According to a study, postnatal depression lasts up to 3 to 6 months after they begin.

What makes you a high risk for postpartum?

The factors that increase the risk of postpartum depression include high life stress, a lack of social support, prenatal depression, and an unhappy marital relationship.

How can you prevent postpartum?

You can prevent postnatal depression by educating yourself about PPD, getting adequate rest, consuming balanced meals, doing exercises, and avoiding major life changes right after delivery. You can also consider enlisting on a good support platform during delivery, and preparing yourself well to give birth.

When To See The Doctor

You may be hesitant to acknowledge that you’re going through postpartum depression after pregnancy. However, if you are experiencing any of the signs of postpartum, or baby blues, you should contact your doctor right away and make an appointment. Get postpartum depression treatment, if you think you could be suffering from postpartum psychosis and developing suicidal feelings.

Takeaway

However, if you feel like your depression is getting out of hand and you are unable to focus, seeking medical care or counselling  is necessary. If you have a history of depression, especially postpartum depression, talk to your doctor before conceiving or as soon as you learn what you’re expecting.

#postpartumdepression #momhealth

Related Articles: 

Post Pregnancy Depression: Here we bring you some tips to overcome your post-pregnancy depression. Check them out! 

Celeb Mommies Suffered From Pregnancy Depression: Here is the list of 6 celeb mommies who have suffered from depression during and after their pregnancy.

Motherhood And Depression: Read on to get a glimpse of what all happens when a mother is going through depression after their delivery and understand all the necessary measures you can take!

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