Postpartum depression (PPD) is a feelings of sadness, anxiety and exhaustion that affects some women after giving birth to an infant. This feeling can interfere with a woman’s ability to care for herself or her family when extreme. This condition often develops within 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth, but it can take several months to be noticed.
Postpartum or prenatal depression also occurs in men.
What causes postpartum depression?
Several factor affect the development of postpartum depression. Among them is sudden drop of the levels of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in a woman’s body which leads to chemical changes in her brain that may trigger mood swings. The physical sleep deprivation associated with raising a baby might also contribute. Some other factors include:
- financial difficulties
- loneliness, not having close friends and family around
- a history of mental problems
- the health complication associated with childbirth, including urinary incontinence, anemia and blood pressure changes.
Postpartum depression does NOT occur because the women does or does not do something. It also does NOT necessarily mean the mother dislikes her new baby.
What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?
Here are some common signs and symptoms of postpartum depression:
- feeling of being sad, overwhelmed, fatigued, trapped and hopeless
- a low mood that lasts for longer than a week
- feeling of being ignored or rejected
- crying a lot more often
- feeling guilty
- more easily irritable than normal
- headache, blurred vision
- stomach ache, loss of appetite
- loss of libido
- having panic attacks
- reduced motivation
- sleeping difficulties
- the parent lacks interest in themselves
- a feeling of incompetence
- an unexplained lack of interest in the new baby
- a lack of desire to meet up or stay in touch with friends
How to tell if she has postpartum depression?
This condition can only be diagnosed by a health professional because symptoms of this condition are broad and may vary between women. Therefore, a woman who experiences any of the symptoms listed above should see a health care provider right away.
Postpartum depression is not “baby blues”?
The “baby blues” is a term used to describe the feelings of worry, unhappiness, and fatigue that many women experience after having a baby. Babies require a lot of care, so it’s normal for mothers to be worried about, or tired from, providing that care. Baby blues often last about a week or two and goes away as the woman gets familiar with the routine. In postpartum depression, this feelings are often severe enough to affect her ability to function and last longer than two weeks.
How is postpartum depression treated?
There are effective treatments for postpartum depression that can be administered by a woman’s health care provider:
- Counseling/Talk Therapy: This treatment involves talking one-on-one with a mental health professional (a counselor, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker).
- Medication: Antidepressant medications act on the brain chemicals that are involved in mood regulation. It is strongly advised that a woman should talk to her health care provider about the risks and benefits to both herself and her baby before taking any medication.
It is important you speak to a health care professional if you are feeling sad, overwhelmed, fatigued, trapped and hopeless after having a baby.